Pulmonary Lymphangiectasia Resulting from Vegf-C Overexpression During a Critical Period
Rationale: Lymphatic vessels in the respiratory tract normally mature into a functional network during the neonatal period, but under some pathological conditions can grow as enlarged, dilated sacs that result in the potentially lethal condition of pulmonary lymphangiectasia.
Objective: We sought to determine whether overexpression of the lymphangiogenic growth factor VEGF-C can promote lymphatic growth and maturation in the respiratory tract. Unexpectedly, perinatal overexpression of VEGF-C in the respiratory epithelium led to a condition resembling human pulmonary lymphangiectasia, a life-threatening disorder of the newborn characterized by respiratory distress and the presence of widely dilated lymphatics.
Methods and Results: Administration of doxycycline to CCSP-rtTA/tetO-VEGF-C double transgenic mice during a critical period from E15.5 to P14 was accompanied by respiratory distress, chylothorax, pulmonary lymphangiectasia, and high mortality. Enlarged sac-like lymphatics were abundant near major airways, pulmonary vessels, and visceral pleura. Side-by-side comparison revealed morphologic features similar to pulmonary lymphangiectasia in humans. The condition was milder in mice given doxycycline after age P14 and did not develop after P35. Mechanistic studies revealed that VEGFR-3 alone drove lymphatic growth in adult mice, but both VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 were required for the development of lymphangiectasia in neonates. VEGFR-2/VEGFR-3 heterodimers were more abundant in the dilated lymphatics, consistent with the involvement of both receptors. Despite the dependence of lymphangiectasia on VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3, the condition was not reversed by blocking both receptors together or by withdrawing VEGF-C.
Conclusions:: The findings indicate that VEGF-C overexpression can induce pulmonary lymphangiectasia during a critical period in perinatal development.
- Clara cells
- respiratory disease
- lymphatic capillary
- vascular endothelial growth factor
- vascular endothelial growth factor receptor
- pulmonary edema
- Received December 15, 2013.
- Revision received January 13, 2014.
- Accepted January 15, 2014.