What is it about?

Lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) - the essential building blocks of lymphatic vessels - have two VEGF receptors: VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3. It is still unknown, why LECs have VEGFR-2. Blood vessels have also VEGFR-2 and the growth of blood vessels depends entirely on VEGFR-2. This paper tries to address whether VEGFR-2 plays a role for lymphatic vessels or whether VEGFR-3 alone is sufficient to drive the growth of lymphatics.

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Why is it important?

Making blood vessels grow is the only causal therapy for lymphedema. Lymphedema is the swelling of body parts due to an insufficient transport of lymph fluid by the lymphatic vessels. Worldwide, millions of people are affected by this condition. The worldwide most common cause of lymphedema is filariasis (a nematode infection). In Europe and the US, breast-cancer-associated lymphedema affects about 150 thousand patients each year.

Perspectives

The take-home message is not as straightforward as the title suggests. The C156S mutant form of VEGF-C is not entirely devoid of VEGFR-2-activating potential, but instead, it has about 1/10 of the affinity of the wild-type VEGF-C for VEGFR-2. This leaves ample opportunity for a role of VEGFR-2 (or VEGFR-2/VEGFR-3 heterodimers) in the development of the lymphatic system...

Dr Michael Jeltsch
Helsingin Yliopisto

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Signalling via vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3 is sufficient for lymphangiogenesis in transgenic mice, The EMBO Journal, March 2001, Wiley, DOI: 10.1093/emboj/20.6.1223.
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