The vascular endothelium is a dynamic tissue with many active functions. Until recently, endothelial cell (EC) biology studies have used cultured ECs from various organs; these cell lines are considered representative of the blood vascular endothelium. Very few lymphatic EC lines have been available, and these were derived from lymphatic tumours or large collecting lymphatic ducts. In the past, lymphatic vessels were defined largely by the lack of erythrocytes in their lumen, a lack of junctional complexes and the lack of a well-defined basement membrane. Now that lymphatic-specific vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF-C and VEGF-D) and molecular cell surface markers such as the VEGFR-3 receptor have been identified, this definition needs to be updated. Recent developments have highlighted the importance of lymphatic ECs, and they could become the next focus for angiogenesis and metastasis research.
2002. Vol. 4, no 1