PloS one

Th2 cytokines inhibit lymphangiogenesis.

PMID 26039103


Lymphangiogenesis is the process by which new lymphatic vessels grow in response to pathologic stimuli such as wound healing, inflammation, and tumor metastasis. It is well-recognized that growth factors and cytokines regulate lymphangiogenesis by promoting or inhibiting lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) proliferation, migration and differentiation. Our group has shown that the expression of T-helper 2 (Th2) cytokines is markedly increased in lymphedema, and that these cytokines inhibit lymphatic function by increasing fibrosis and promoting changes in the extracellular matrix. However, while the evidence supporting a role for T cells and Th2 cytokines as negative regulators of lymphatic function is clear, the direct effects of Th2 cytokines on isolated LECs remains poorly understood. Using in vitro and in vivo studies, we show that physiologic doses of interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13) have profound anti-lymphangiogenic effects and potently impair LEC survival, proliferation, migration, and tubule formation. Inhibition of these cytokines with targeted monoclonal antibodies in the cornea suture model specifically increases inflammatory lymphangiogenesis without concomitant changes in angiogenesis. These findings suggest that manipulation of anti-lymphangiogenic pathways may represent a novel and potent means of improving lymphangiogenesis.