Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

LYMPHANGIOGENOMICS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 503573
Funded under: FP6-LIFESCIHEALTH
Country: Finland

Analysis of the lymphatic system

Our body’s ability to maintain a fluid balance and take up dietary fat, as well as to transport immune cells, is mediated through a specialised part of our circulation known as the lymphatic system. A group of European scientists teamed up to investigate how the lymphatic system develops and functions.
Analysis of the lymphatic system
Absent or damaged lymphatic vessels may lead to swelling of the extremities, sometimes necessitating amputation of the affected limb. Importantly, transport of cancer cells during metastases formation is also facilitated by the lymphatic system, urging for a more thorough understanding of its development and function.

The EU-funded ‘Genome-wide discovery and functional analysis of novel genes in lymphangiogenesis’ (Lymphangiogenomics) project aimed to delineate how lymphatic vessels are formed and what genes are important for lymphatic versus blood vascular development and function. To achieve this, project partners used a genome-wide approach to knock out or reduce the expression of various genes in the mouse or zebrafish genomes.

The scientists found that the formation of new blood vessels was mediated by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A through specialised endothelial tip cells in the mouse retina. The team also presented evidence that this process was activated by Notch signalling, suggesting that gamma-secretase inhibitors of the pathway – initially developed for Alzheimer's disease – might find usage as pharmacological regulators of angiogenesis.

The Lymphangiogenomics study provided a new and fundamental understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of lymphangiogenesis which is expected to lead to the development of novel therapies for manipulating the growth of lymphatic vessels.

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