Exploiting lymphatic vessels for immunomodulation: Rationale, opportunities, and challenges

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2017 May 15;114:43-59. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2017.07.005. Epub 2017 Jul 8.


Lymphatic vessels are the primary route of communication from peripheral tissues to the immune system; as such, they represent an important component of local immunity. In addition to their transport functions, new immunomodulatory roles for lymphatic vessels and lymphatic endothelial cells have come to light in recent years, demonstrating that lymphatic vessels help shape immune responses in a variety of ways: promoting tolerance to self-antigens, archiving antigen for later presentation, dampening effector immune responses, and resolving inflammation, among others. In addition to these new biological insights, the growing field of immunoengineering has begun to explore therapeutic approaches to utilize or exploit the lymphatic system for immunotherapy.

Keywords: Cancer; Immune regulation; Immunotherapy; Lymph node targeting; Lymphangiogenesis; Nanotechnology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Brain / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / therapy
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism
  • Lymphangiogenesis
  • Lymphatic Vessels / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy


  • Autoantigens