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Int Rev Cytol. 2003;230:41-87.

Transendothelial transport and migration in vessels of the apparatus lymphaticus periphericus absorbens (ALPA).

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Section of Human Anatomy, Department of Human Anatomy, Pharmacology and Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Parma, 43100 Parma, Italy.


The vessel of the apparatus lymphaticus periphericus absorbens (ALPA) represents the sector with high absorption capacity of the canalization of the lymphatic vascular system. It plays a basic role in preserving tissue homeostasis and in directing interstitial capillary filtrate back to the bloodstream. ALPA lymphatic endothelium differs from the endothelia of conduction and flowing vessels (precollectors, prelymph nodal and postlymph nodal collectors, main trunks), since it presents a discontinuous basement membrane, which is often absent, and lacks pores and fenestrations. The mesenchymal origin of the ALPA lymphatic vessel, morphological and ultrastructural aspects, intrinsic contractile properties, the presence of valves, innervation, and specific lymphatic markers that reliably distinguish it from blood capillaries are studied. Furthermore, its role in lymph formation through different mechanisms (hydrostatic pressure and colloidal osmotic-reticular mechanisms, vesicular pathway, and intraendothelial channel) is investigated. We have studied morphological and biomolecular mechanisms that control the transendothelial migration, from the extracellular interstitial matrix into the lumen of the lymphatic vessel, of cells involved in immune response and resistance (lymphocyte recirculation, etc.) and in the tumoral metastatic process via the lymphatic system. Finally, future research prospects, clinical implications, and therapeutic strategies are considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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