Method for the quantitative measurement of collecting lymphatic vessel contraction in mice
Collecting lymphatic vessels are critical for the transport of lymph and its cellular contents to lymph nodes for both immune surveillance and the maintenance of tissue-fluid balance. Collecting lymphatic vessels drive lymph flow by autonomous contraction of smooth muscle cells that cover these vessels. Here we describe methods using intravital microscopy to image and quantify collecting lymphatic vessel contraction in mice. Our methods allow for the measurement of the strength of lymphatic contraction of an individual lymphangion in a mouse, which has not yet been demonstrated using other published methods. The ability to study murine collecting lymphatic vessel contraction—using the methods described here or other recently published techniques—allows the field to dissect the molecular mechanisms controlling lymphatic pumping under normal and pathological conditions using the wide variety of molecular tools and genetic models available in the mouse. We have used our methods to study lymphatic contraction in physiological and inflammatory conditions. The methods described here will facilitate the further study of lymphatic function in other pathological conditions that feature lymphatic complications.
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