The ability to discriminate reliably at the histological level between blood and lymphatic microcapillaries would greatly assist the study of a number of biological and pathological questions and may also be of clinical utility. A structure-function comparison of these types of microcapillary suggests that differences which could function as markers to allow discrimination between blood and lymphatic endothelium should exist. Indeed, to date a variety of such markers have been proposed, including basement membrane components, constituents of junctional complexes such as desmoplakin and enzymes such as 5'-nucleotidase. Additionally, a variety of cell surface molecules are thought to be differentially expressed, including PAL-E, VEGFR-3, podoplanin, and LYVE-1. Several of the lymphatic markers proposed in the literature require further characterization to demonstrate fully their lymphatic specificity and some have proven not to be reliable. The relative merits and drawbacks of each of the proposed markers is discussed.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.