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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008;1131:1-12. doi: 10.1196/annals.1413.001.

Markers for microscopic imaging of lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis.

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Cardiovascular Research Institute, Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Imaging of lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis requires robust and unambiguous markers of lymphatic and blood vessels. Although much progress has been made in recent years in identifying molecules specifically expressed on lymphatic and blood vessels, no perfect marker has been found that works reliably in all species, tissues, vascular beds, and in all physiological and pathologic conditions. The heterogeneity of expression of markers in both blood and lymphatic vessels reflects underlying differences in the phenotype of endothelial cells. Use of only one marker can lead to misleading interpretations, but these pitfalls can usually be avoided by use of multiple markers and three-dimensional whole-mount preparations. LYVE-1, VEGFR-3, Prox1, and podoplanin are among the most useful markers for microscopic imaging of lymphatic vessels, but, depending on histologic location, each marker can be expressed by other cell types, including vascular endothelial cells. Other markers, including CD31, junctional proteins, and receptors, such as VEGF-2, are shared by lymphatic and blood vessels.

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