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Inflammatory pleuritis often causes pleural effusions, which are drained through lymphatic vessels (lymphatics) in the parietal pleura. The distribution of button- and zipper-like endothelial junctions can identify the subtypes of lymphatics, the initial, pre-collecting, and collecting lymphatics. Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)-3 and its ligands VEGF-C/D are crucial lymphangiogenic factors. Currently, in the pleura covering the chest walls, the anatomy of the lymphatics and connecting networks of blood vessels are incompletely understood. Moreover, their pathological and functional plasticity under inflammation and the effects of VEGFR inhibition are unclear. This study aimed to learn the above-unanswered questions and immunostained mouse chest walls as whole-mount specimens. Confocal microscopic images and their 3-dimensional reconstruction analyzed the vasculatures. Repeated intra-pleural cavity lipopolysaccharide challenge induced pleuritis, which was also treated with VEGFR inhibition. Levels of vascular-related factors were evaluated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. We observed the initial lymphatics in the intercostals, collecting lymphatics under the ribs, and pre-collecting lymphatics connecting both. Arteries branched into capillaries and gathered into veins from the cranial to the caudal side. Lymphatics and blood vessels were in different layers with an adjacent distribution of the lymphatic layer to the pleural cavity. Inflammatory pleuritis elevated expression levels of VEGF-C/D and angiopoietin-2, induced lymphangiogenesis and blood vessel remodeling, and disorganized the lymphatic structures and subtypes. The disorganized lymphatics showed large sheet-like structures with many branches and holes inside. Such lymphatics were abundant in zipper-like endothelial junctions with some button-like junctions. The blood vessels were tortuous and had various diameters and complex networks. Stratified layers of lymphatics and blood vessels were disorganized, with impaired drainage function. VEGFR inhibition partially maintained their structures and drainage function. These findings demonstrate anatomy and pathological changes of the vasculatures in the parietal pleura and their potential as a novel therapeutic target. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Yuzhuo Ren, Tatsuma Okazaki, Peerada Ngamsnae, Hikaru Hashimoto, Ryoukichi Ikeda, Yohei Honkura, Jun Suzuki, Shin-Ichi Izumi. Anatomy and function of the lymphatic vessels in the parietal pleura and their plasticity under inflammation in mice. Microvascular research. 2023 Jul;148:104546

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PMID: 37230165

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