Werner Risau Prize:
Multiple roles of lymphatic vessels in peripheral lymph node development

Esther Bovay


The mammalian lymphatic system consists of strategically located lymph nodes (LNs) embedded into a lymphatic vascular network. Mechanisms underlying development of this highly organized system are not fully understood.

Using high- resolution imaging, we show that lymphoid tissue inducer (LTi) cells initially transmigrate from veins at LN development sites using gaps in venous mural coverage. This process is independent of lymphatic vasculature, but lymphatic vessels are indispensable for the transport of LTi cells that egress from blood capillaries elsewhere and serve as an essential LN expansion reservoir. At later stages, lymphatic collecting vessels ensure efficient LTi cell transport and formation of the LN capsule and subcapsular sinus. Perinodal lymphatics also promote local interstitial flow, which cooperates with lymphotoxin-β signaling to amplify stromal CXCL13 production and thereby promote LTi cell retention.

Our data unify previous models of LN development by showing that lymphatics intervene at multiple points to assist LN expansion and identify a new role for mechanical forces in LN development.


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