Cardiac lymphatics are heterogeneous in origin and respond to injury.
Klotz L., Norman S., Vieira JM., Masters M., Rohling M., Dubé KN., Bollini S., Matsuzaki F., Carr CA., Riley PR.
The lymphatic vasculature is a blind-ended network crucial for tissue-fluid homeostasis, immune surveillance and lipid absorption from the gut. Recent evidence has proposed an entirely venous-derived mammalian lymphatic system. By contrast, here we show that cardiac lymphatic vessels in mice have a heterogeneous cellular origin, whereby formation of at least part of the cardiac lymphatic network is independent of sprouting from veins. Multiple Cre–lox-based lineage tracing revealed a potential contribution from the putative haemogenic endothelium during development, and discrete lymphatic endothelial progenitor populations were confirmed by conditional knockout of Prox1 in Tie2+ and Vav1+ compartments. In the adult heart, myocardial infarction promoted a significant lymphangiogenic response, which was augmented by treatment with VEGF-C, resulting in improved cardiac function. These data prompt the re-evaluation of a century-long debate on the origin of lymphatic vessels and suggest that lymphangiogenesis may represent a therapeutic target to promote cardiac repair following injury.