Thomas D Spies Professor of Lymphatic Metabolism
Director Center for Vascular and Developmental Biology
Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute
Host: Martin Chalfie
Title: The lymphatic vasculature in the 21st century: developmental mechanisms and functional roles
Abstract: The lymphatic vasculature is a network that provides a unidirectional conduit to return filtered arterial and tissue metabolites from the extracellular spaces back to the blood circulation. Our understanding of the genes and mechanisms controlling the development of the lymphatic vasculature network has significantly improved during the last decade. Regarding their functional roles, with the exception of research on lymphatic disorders or studies of lymphatics in tumor metastasis, the lymphatic vasculature was a poorly investigated topic. However, recent discoveries changed our conventional views about the roles of lymphatics in health and disease. Traditionally considered a passive route for the transport of fluid and immune cells, also required for the absorption of dietary fat in the gastrointestinal organs, lymphatics are now considered as active players in major physiological and pathophysiological processes. Unexpectedly, morphological or functional defects in the lymphatic vasculature have been associated with a variety of medical conditions, including obesity, inflammation, hypertension, atherosclerosis, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s. In this seminar I will summarize our current views related to the mechanisms regulating the development of the mammalian lymphatic vasculature as well as the current views related to its functional roles in health and disease.