Tissue engineering and regeneration of lymphatic structures
Tissue engineering is the process by which biological structures are recreated using a combination of molecular signals, cellular components and scaffolds. Although the perceived potential of this approach to reconstruct damaged or missing tissues is seemingly limitless, application of these ideas in vivo has been more difficult than expected. However, despite these obstacles, important advancements have been reported for a number of organ systems, including recent reports on the lymphatic system. These advancements are important since the lymphatic system plays a central role in immune responses, regulation of inflammation, lipid absorption and interstitial fluid homeostasis. Insights obtained over the past two decades have advanced our understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern lymphatic development and function. Utilizing this knowledge has led to important advancements in lymphatic tissue engineering, which is the topic of this review.