Dr. Li-Chin Yao and colleagues of the University of California, San Francisco, CA have discovered that remodeling of lymphatic vessels may be more persistent than blood vessel remodeling as a result of inflammation. These results are presented in the March 2010 issue of The American Journal of Pathology.
Vessel remodeling plays a pathogenic role in a number of chronic inflammatory diseases, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and skin lesions in psoriasis. Reversal of such remodeling could prevent long-term complications from these diseases.
Yao et al used mice infected with the bacteria Mycoplasma pulmonis to induce vessel remodeling as a result of inflammation; these mice were then treated with the anti-inflammatory corticosteroid dexamethasone to examine the reversibility of vessel remodeling. In the absence of dexamethasone, both blood and lymphatic vessel remodeling occurred, whereas concurrent dexamethasone treatment prevented this remodeling. In contrast, dexamethasone treatment after two weeks of remodeling reversed blood vessel changes but not lymphangiogenesis; it also decreased the number of lymphocytes but not neutrophils and macrophages. Thus, lymphatic remodeling may be more persistent than blood vessel remodeling and may play a larger role in future inflammatory episodes.
The study by Yao et al shows that "changes in blood vessels and lymphatics are easier to prevent than to reverse in chronic inflamed airways. … A better understanding of the role of distinct growth and maintenance factors that first induce the growth of blood and lymphatic vessels and then protect them from regression in chronic inflammatory disease may provide insight to the vascular contribution to the course of inflammatory disease."
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