Indexed on: 06 May '06Published on: 06 May '06Published in: The Journal of Physiology
To investigate the phenotypic consequences of a deranged lymphangiogenesis in relation to tissue fluid accumulation and the possible role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of lymphoedema, we measured determinants of transcapillary fluid filtration and inflammatory mediators in the interstitial fluid in genetically engineered Chy mice, a model for primary congenital lymphoedema (Milroy's disease). Although initial lymphatics were not present in dermis in any of the areas studied (fore paw, hind paw, thigh and back skin) interstitial fluid pressure (P(if)), measured with micropipettes, and tissue fluid volumes were significantly increased only in the areas with visible swelling - the fore and hind paw, whereas interstitial colloid osmotic pressure (COP(if)) was increased in all the skin areas examined. A volume load of 15% of body weight resulted in a more pronounced increase in P(if) as well as a four-fold increase in interstitial fluid volume in Chy relative to wild-type (wt) mice, showing the quantitative importance of lymphatics for fluid homeostasis during acute perturbations. A similar level of proinflammatory markers in interstitial fluid in early established lymphoedema (3-4 months) in Chy and wt suggests that inflammation does not have a major pathogenetic role for the development of lymphoedema, whereas a reduced level of the immunomodulatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-4 may result in a reduced immunological defence ability and thus lead to the increase in inflammatory cytokines IL-2 and IL-6 observed at a later stage (11-13 months). Our data suggest that primary lymphoedema results in a high interstitial fluid protein concentration that does not induce an interstitial inflammatory reaction per se, and furthermore shows the paramount importance of the initial lymphatics in tissue fluid homeostasis, especially during perturbations of transcapillary fluid balance.