Recent progress in lymphatic vessel biology and in novel imaging techniques has established the importance of the lymphatic vasculature as part of the cardiovascular system. The lymphatic vessel network regulates many physiological processes important for heart function such as fluid balance, transport of extravasated proteins, and trafficking of immune cells. Therefore, lymphangiogenic therapy could be beneficial in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, for example by improving reverse cholesterol transport (RCT) from atherosclerotic lesions or by resolving edema and fibrosis after myocardial infarction. In this review we first describe recent findings on the development and function of cardiac lymphatic vessels, and subsequently focus on the prospects of pro- and anti-lymphangiogenic therapies in cardiovascular diseases.
Keywords: atherosclerosis; cardiac lymphatic vessels; myocardial infarction; reverse cholesterol transport; therapeutics.
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