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Lymphat Res Biol. 2008;6(3-4):109-22. doi: 10.1089/lrb.2008.1008.

The lymphatic system in health and disease.

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  • 1Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


The lymphatic vascular system has an important role in the regulation of tissue pressure, immune surveillance and the absorption of dietary fat in the intestine. There is growing evidence that the lymphatic system also contributes to a number of diseases, such as lymphedema, cancer metastasis and different inflammatory disorders. The discovery of various molecular markers allowing the distinction of blood and lymphatic vessels, together with the availability of a increasing number of in vitro and in vivo models to study various aspects of lymphatic biology, has enabled tremendous progress in research into the development and function of the lymphatic system. This review discusses recent advances in our understanding of the embryonic development of the lymphatic vasculature, the molecular mechanisms mediating lymphangiogenesis in the adult, the role of lymphangiogenesis in chronic inflammation and lymphatic cancer metastasis, and the emerging importance of the lymphatic vasculature as a therapeutic target.

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