Engineering the Lymphatic System

Cardiovasc Eng Technol. 2011 Dec;2(4):296-308. doi: 10.1007/s13239-011-0054-6. Epub 2011 Jul 28.


The recent advances in our understanding of lymphatic physiology and the role of the lymphatics in actively regulating fluid balance, lipid transport, and immune cell trafficking has been furthered in part through innovations in imaging, tissue engineering, quantitative biology, biomechanics, and computational modeling. Interdisciplinary and bioengineering approaches will continue to be crucial to the progression of the field, given that lymphatic biology and function are intimately woven with the local microenvironment and mechanical loads experienced by the vessel. This is particularly the case in lymphatic diseases such as lymphedema where the microenvironment can be drastically altered by tissue fibrosis and adipocyte accumulation. In this review we will highlight contributions engineering and mechanics have made to lymphatic physiology and will discuss areas that will be important for future research.

Keywords: biomechanics; imaging; lymphatic; lymphedema; shear stress; tissue engineering.