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Lymphat Res Biol. 2006;4(2):83-100.

Lymphatic endothelial cells, lymphangiogenesis, and extracellular matrix.

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Department of Anatomy, Biology and Medicine, Oita University Faculty of Medicine, Oita, Japan.


Exciting studies involving the molecular regulation of lymphangiogenesis in lymphatic-associated disorders (e.g., wound healing, lymphedema and tumor metastasis) have focused renewed attention on the intrinsic relationship between lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) and extracellular matrix (ECM) microenvironment. ECM molecules and remodeling events play a key role in regulating lymphangiogenesis, and the "functionality"-relating molecules, especially hyaluronan, integrins, reelin, IL-7, and matrix metalloproteinases, provide the most fundamental and critical prerequisite for LEC growth, migration, tube formation, and survival, although lymphangiogenesis is directly or/and indirectly controlled by VEGF-C/-D/VEGFR- 3- Prox-1-, Syk/SLP76-, podoplanin/Ang-2/Nrp-2-, FOXC2-, and other signaling pathways in embryonic and pathological processes. New knowledge regarding the differentiation of initial lymphatics should enable improvements in understanding of a variety of cytokines, chemokines, and other factors. The lymphatic colocalization with histochemical staining by using the novel molecular markers (e.g., LYVE-1), along with subsequent injection technique with ferritin or some tracer, will reveal functional and structural features of newly formed and preexisting lymphatics. Growing recognition of the multiple functions of ECM and LEC molecules for important physiological and pathological events may be helpful in identifying the crucial changes in tissues subjected to lymph circulation and ultimately in the search for rational therapeutic approaches to prevent lymphatic-associated disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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