Pathogenic Exploitation of Lymphatic Vessels

Cells. 2022 Mar 12;11(6):979. doi: 10.3390/cells11060979.


Lymphatic vessels provide a critical line of communication between peripheral tissues and their draining lymph nodes, which is necessary for robust immune responses against infectious agents. At the same time, lymphatics help shape the nature and kinetics of immune responses to ensure resolution, limit tissue damage, and prevent autoimmune responses. A variety of pathogens have developed strategies to exploit these functions, from multicellular organisms like nematodes to bacteria, viruses, and prions. While lymphatic vessels serve as transport routes for the dissemination of many pathogens, their hypoxic and immune-suppressive environments can provide survival niches for others. Lymphatics can be exploited as perineural niches, for inter-organ distribution among highly motile carrier cells, as effective replicative niches, and as alternative routes in response to therapy. Recent studies have broadened our understanding of lymphatic involvement in pathogenic spread to include a wider range of pathogens, as well as new mechanisms of exploitation, which we summarize here.

Keywords: dissemination; enteric escape; lymph node; replicative niche.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmunity
  • Immunity
  • Lymph Nodes*
  • Lymphatic System
  • Lymphatic Vessels*