Lymphatic vessels play a role in tissue regeneration
The human lymphatic system includes an extensive network of vessels that covers the entire body. It has the heroic job of delivering white blood cells to fight infection and the humdrum task of ridding the body of toxins. Lymphatic vessels are also important for heart function though their role in injured hearts is less clear. Researchers now investigate this using zebrafish, an organism able to regenerate heart tissue after injury, unlike humans who develop scar tissue. Fluorescence microscopy of developing zebrafish hearts (pictured) revealed that lymphatic vessels (blue) grow along existing heart blood vessels (green). Injuring the heart caused extra lymphatic vessels to grow. What’s more, in mutant zebrafish lacking lymphatic vessels in the heart, regeneration of heart tissue after injury was less efficient and more scar tissue developed. Stimulating the growth of lymphatic vessels or enhancing their activity in injured hearts could, therefore, aid recovery in heart attack patients.
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