Investigating lymphangiogenesis in vitro and in vivo using engineered human lymphatic vessel networks

Shira Landau, Abigail Newman, Shlomit Edri, Inbal Michael, Shahar Ben-Shaul, Yulia Shandalov, Tom Ben-Arye, Pritinder Kaur, Ming H. Zheng, Shulamit Levenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The lymphatic system is involved in various biological processes, including fluid transport from the interstitium into the venous circulation, lipid absorption, and immune cell trafficking. Despite its critical role in homeostasis, lymphangiogenesis (lymphatic vessel formation) is less widely studied than its counterpart, angiogenesis (blood vessel formation). Although the incorporation of lymphatic vasculature in engineered tissues or organoids would enable more precise mimicry of native tissue, few studies have focused on creating engineered tissues containing lymphatic vessels. Here, we populated thick collagen sheets with human lymphatic endothelial cells, combined with supporting cells and blood endothelial cells, and examined lymphangiogenesis within the resulting constructs. Our model required just a few days to develop a functional lymphatic vessel network, in contrast to other reported models requiring several weeks. Coculture of lymphatic endothelial cells with the appropriate supporting cells and intact PDGFR-β signaling proved essential for the lymphangiogenesis process. Additionally, subjecting the constructs to cyclic stretch enabled the creation of complex muscle tissue aligned with the lymphatic and blood vessel networks, more precisely biomimicking native tissue. Interestingly, the response of developing lymphatic vessels to tensile forces was different from that of blood vessels; while blood vessels oriented perpendicularly to the stretch direction, lymphatic vessels mostly oriented in parallel to the stretch direction. Implantation of the engineered lymphatic constructs into a mouse abdominal wall muscle resulted in anastomosis between host and implant lymphatic vasculatures, demonstrating the engineered construct's potential functionality in vivo. Overall, this model provides a potential platform for investigating lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic disease mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2101931118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number31
StatePublished - 3 Aug 2021


  • Engineered tissue
  • Lymphangiogenesis
  • Lymphatic endothelial cells
  • Vascularization

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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