Utilizing lymphatic cell markers to visualize human lymphatic abnormalities

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In vivo visualization of the human lymphatic system is limited by the mode of delivery of tracing agents, depth of field and size of the area examined, and specificity of the cell markers used to distinguish lymphatic endothelium from the blood vessels and the surrounding tissues. These limitations are particularly problematic when imaging human lymphatic abnormalities. First, limited understanding of the lymphatic disease aetiology exists with respect to genetic causes and phenotypic presentations. Second, the ability of a tracer to reach the entire lymphatic network within the diseased tissue is suboptimal. Third, what is known about the expression of lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) markers, such as podoplanin, lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor, Drosophila melanogaster homeobox gene prospero-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3 in rodent lymphatic vessels and healthy human LECs may not necessarily apply in human lymphatic disease settings. The aim of this review is to highlight challenges in visualizing lymphatic vessels in human lymphatic abnormalities with respect to distribution patterns of the cellular markers currently employed to visualize abnormal human lymphatic vessels in experimental settings. Allowing for these limitations within new diagnostic visualization technologies is likely to improve our ability to image human lymphatic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere201700117
JournalJournal of Biophotonics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • anomaly
  • cell
  • imaging
  • lymphatic
  • markers
  • surface
  • vascular

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