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J Exp Med. 2011 May 9;208(5):1083-92. doi: 10.1084/jem.20092277. Epub 2011 May 2.

Thrombospondin 1 inhibits inflammatory lymphangiogenesis by CD36 ligation on monocytes.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.


Lymphangiogenesis plays an important role in tumor metastasis and transplant outcome. Here, we show that thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1), a multifunctional extracellular matrix protein and naturally occurring inhibitor of angiogenesis inhibits lymphangiogenesis in mice. Compared with wild-type mice, 6-mo-old TSP-1-deficient mice develop increased spontaneous corneal lymphangiogenesis. Similarly, in a model of inflammation-induced corneal neovascularization, young TSP-1-deficient mice develop exacerbated lymphangiogenesis, which can be reversed by topical application of recombinant human TSP-1. Such increased corneal lymphangiogenesis is also detected in mice lacking CD36, a receptor for TSP-1. In these mice, repopulation of corneal macrophages with predominantly WT mice via bone marrow reconstitution ameliorates their prolymphangiogenic phenotype. In vitro, exposure of WT macrophages to TSP-1 suppresses expression of lymphangiogenic factors vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-C and VEGF-D, but not of a primarily hemangiogenic factor VEGF-A. Inhibition of VEGF-C is not detected in the absence or blockade of CD36. These findings suggest that TSP-1, by ligating CD36 on monocytic cells, acts as an endogenous inhibitor of lymphangiogenesis.

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