Endothelial cells line the vessels which transport fluid and cells throughout the body. Although much attention has been paid to these cells in the context of the blood vascular system, endothelial cells also line lymphatic vessels. Recent progress in identifying growth factors which drive the development of lymphatic vessels and molecular markers specific for lymphatics has expanded our understanding of the role the lymphatic system plays in human pathology. Techniques for purifying populations of lymphatic endothelial cells also allow the in vitro analysis of this unique surface to explore its role in tumour metastasis, immune cell function and fluid transport. This review provides a synopsis of the recent data pertaining to the purification and culture of lymphatic endothelial cells, and the interaction of tumour cells with lymphatic endothelium.
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