Purpose: Vascularized lymph node transfer is becoming more common in the treatment of lymphedema, but suitable small animal models for research are lacking. Here, we evaluated the feasibility of pedicled vascularized inguinal lymph node transfer in mice.
Methods: Twenty-five mice were used in the study. An inguinal lymph node-bearing flap with a vascular pedicle containing the superficial caudal epigastric vessels was transferred into the ipsilateral popliteal fossa after excision of the popliteal lymph node. Indocyanine green (ICG) angiography was used to confirm vascularity of the flap. ICG lymphography was performed to evaluate lymphatic flow at 3 and 4 weeks postoperatively. Patent blue dye was injected into the ipsilateral hind paw to observe staining of the transferred lymph node at 4 weeks postoperatively. All transferred lymph nodes were then harvested and histologically evaluated by hematoxylin and eosin staining.
Results: In 16 of the 25 mice, ICG lymphography showed reconnection between the transferred lymph node and the afferent lymphatic vessels, as confirmed by patent blue staining. Histologically, these transferred lymph nodes with afferent lymphatic reconnection significantly regressed in size (0.37 ± 0.24 mm2 ) and showed clear follicle formation, whereas those without afferent lymphatic reconnection showed less size regression (1.31 ± 1.17 mm2 ); the cell population was too dense to allow identification of follicles.
Conclusions: We established a mouse model of vascularized lymph node transfer with predictable afferent lymphatic reconnection. Both the vascularization and reconnection might be necessary for functional regeneration of the transferred lymph node.
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.