Lymphatic Changes in Respiratory Diseases: More than Just Remodeling of the Lung?

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Advances in our ability to identify lymphatic endothelial cells and differentiate them from blood endothelial cells have led to important progress in the study of lymphatic biology. Over the past decade, preclinical and clinical studies have shown that there are changes to the lymphatic vasculature in nearly all lung diseases. Efforts to understand the contribution of lymphatics and their growth factors to disease initiation, progression, and resolution have led to seminal findings establishing critical roles for lymphatics in lung biology spanning from the first breath after birth to asthma, tuberculosis, and lung transplantation. However, in other diseases, it remains unclear if lymphatics are part of the overall lung remodeling process or real contributors to disease pathogenesis. The goal of this Translational Review is to highlight some of the advances in our understanding of the role(s) of lymphatics in lung disease and shed light on the critical needs and unanswered questions that might lead to novel translational applications.

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