Steroid-resistant lymphatic remodeling in chronically inflamed mouse airways

Am J Pathol. 2010 Mar;176(3):1525-41. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.090909. Epub 2010 Jan 21.


Angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis participate in many inflammatory diseases, and their reversal is thought to be beneficial. However, the extent of reversibility of vessel remodeling is poorly understood. We exploited the potent anti-inflammatory effects of the corticosteroid dexamethasone to test the preventability and reversibility of vessel remodeling in Mycoplasma pulmonis-infected mice using immunohistochemistry and quantitative RT-PCR. In this model robust immune responses drive rapid and sustained changes in blood vessels and lymphatics. In infected mice not treated with dexamethasone, capillaries enlarged into venules expressing leukocyte adhesion molecules, sprouting angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis occurred, and the inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-1 increased. Concurrent dexamethasone treatment largely prevented the remodeling of blood vessels and lymphatics. Dexamethasone also significantly reduced cytokine expression, bacterial burden, and leukocyte influx into airways and lungs over 4 weeks of infection. In contrast, when infection was allowed to proceed untreated for 2 weeks and then was treated with dexamethasone for 4 weeks, most blood vessel changes reversed but lymphangiogenesis did not, suggesting that different survival mechanisms apply. Furthermore, dexamethasone significantly reduced the bacterial burden and influx of lymphocytes but not of neutrophils or macrophages or cytokine expression. These findings show that lymphatic remodeling is more resistant than blood vessel remodeling to corticosteroid-induced reversal. We suggest that lymphatic remodeling that persists after the initial inflammatory response has resolved may influence subsequent inflammatory episodes in clinical situations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Vessels / drug effects
  • Blood Vessels / microbiology
  • Blood Vessels / pathology
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Leukocytes / drug effects
  • Leukocytes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Vessels / drug effects*
  • Lymphatic Vessels / microbiology
  • Lymphatic Vessels / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Biological
  • Mycoplasma Infections / complications
  • Mycoplasma Infections / microbiology
  • Mycoplasma Infections / pathology
  • Respiratory System / drug effects*
  • Respiratory System / microbiology
  • Respiratory System / pathology*
  • Time Factors


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Dexamethasone