Role of lymphatic vessels in tumor immunity: passive conduits or active participants?

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2010 Sep;15(3):341-52. doi: 10.1007/s10911-010-9193-x. Epub 2010 Sep 11.


Research in lymphatic biology and cancer immunology may soon intersect as emerging evidence implicates the lymphatics in the progression of chronic inflammation and autoimmunity as well as in tumor metastasis and immune escape. Like the blood vasculature, the lymphatic system comprises a highly dynamic conduit system that regulates fluid homeostasis, antigen transport and immune cell trafficking, which all play important roles in the progression and resolution of inflammation, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. This review presents emerging evidence that lymphatic vessels are active modulators of immunity, perhaps fine-tuning the response to adjust the balance between peripheral tolerance and immunity. This suggests that the tumor-associated lymphatic vessels and draining lymph node may be important in tumor immunity which in turn governs metastasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / immunology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Vessels / immunology
  • Lymphatic Vessels / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Tumor Escape / immunology*