Development of lymphatic vessels in mouse embryonic and early postnatal hearts



We aimed to study the spatiotemporal pattern of lymphatic system formation in the embryonic and early postnatal mouse hearts. The first sign of the development of lymphatics are Lyve-1–positive cells located on the subepicardial area. Strands of Lyve-1–positive cells occur first along the atrioventricular sulcus of the diaphragmatic surface and then along the great arteries. Lumenized tubules appear, arranged in rows or in a lattice. They are more conspicuous in dorsal atrioventricular junction, along the major venous and coronary artery branches and at the base of the aorta and the pulmonary trunk extending toward the heart apex. At later stages, some segments of the lymphatic vessels are partially surrounded by smooth muscle cells. Possible mechanisms of lymphangiogenesis are: addition of Lyve-1–positive cells to the existing tubules, elongation of the lymphatic lattice, sprouting and coalescence of tubules. We discuss the existence of various subpopulations of endothelial cells among the Lyve-1–positive cells. Developmental Dynamics 237:2973–2986, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.