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Lymphatics in lymphangioleiomyomatosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Keywords: Chylous effusions , lymphangiogenesis , lymphangioleiomyoma , metastasis , tuberous sclerosis complex , vascular endothelial growth factors

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The primary function of the lymphatic system is absorbing and transporting macromolecules and immune cells to the general circulation, thereby regulating fluid, nutrient absorption and immune cell trafficking. Lymphangiogenesis plays an important role in tissue inflammation and tumour cell dissemination. Lymphatic involvement is seen in lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). LAM, a disease primarily affecting females, involves the lung (cystic destruction), kidney (angiomyolipoma) and axial lymphatics (adenopathy and lymphangioleiomyoma). LAM occurs sporadically or in association with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). Cystic lung destruction results from proliferation of LAM cells, which are abnormal smooth muscle-like cells with mutations in the TSC1 or TSC2 gene. Lymphatic abnormalities arise from infiltration of LAM cells into the lymphatic wall, leading to damage or obstruction of lymphatic vessels. Benign appearing LAM cells possess metastatic properties and are found in the blood and other body fluids. IPF is a progressive lung disease resulting from fibroblast proliferation and collagen deposition. Lymphangiogenesis is associated with pulmonary destruction and disease severity. A macrophage subset isolated from IPF bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) express lymphatic endothelial cell markers in vitro, in contrast to the same macrophage subset from normal BALF. Herein, we review lymphatic involvement in LAM and IPF.


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