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Journal of Ophthalmology
Volume 2012, Article ID 783163, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/783163
Review Article

Lymphatics and Lymphangiogenesis in the Eye

1Department of Ophthalmology, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi, Higashi-Ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan
2Functional and Molecular Imaging Center and Department of Radiology, Brigham and Womenʼs Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Received 15 August 2011; Revised 20 November 2011; Accepted 21 November 2011

Academic Editor: Claus Cursiefen

Copyright © 2012 Shintaro Nakao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Lymphatic is a prerequisite for the maintenance of tissue fluid balance and immunity in the body. A body of evidence also shows that lymphangiogenesis plays important roles in the pathogenesis of diseases such as tumor metastasis and inflammation. The eye was thought to lack lymphatic vessels except for the conjunctiva; however, advances in the field, including the identification of lymphatic endothelial markers (e.g., LYVE-1 or podoplanin) and lymphangiogenic factors (e.g., VEGF-C), have revealed the exsitence and possible roles of lymphatics and lymphangiogenesis in the eye. Recent studies have shown that corneal limbus, ciliary body, lacrimal gland, orbital meninges, and extraocular muscles contain lymphatic vessels and that the choroid might have a lymphatic-like system. There is no known lymphatic outflow from the eye. However, several lymphatic channels including uveolymphatic pathway might serve the ocular fluid homeostasis. Furthermore, lymphangiogenesis plays important roles in pathological conditions in the eye including corneal transplant rejection and ocular tumor progression. Yet, the role of lymphangiogenesis in most eye diseases, especially inflammatory disease or edema, remains unknown. A better understanding of lymphatic and lymphangiogenesis in the eye will open new therapeutic opportunities to prevent vision loss in ocular diseases.