Hemodynamic forces regulate many aspects of blood vessel disease and development, including susceptibility to atherosclerosis and remodeling of primary blood vessels into a mature vascular network. Vessels of the lymphatic circulatory system are also subjected to fluid flow-associated forces, but the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which these forces regulate the formation and maintenance of lymphatic vessels remain largely uncharacterized. This issue of the JCI includes two articles that begin to address how fluid flow influences lymphatic vessel development and function. Sweet et al. demonstrate that lymph flow is essential for the remodeling of primary lymphatic vessels, for ensuring the proper distribution of smooth muscle cells (SMCs), and for the development and maturation of lymphatic valves. Kazenwadel et al. show that flow-induced lymphatic valve development is initiated by the upregulation of GATA2, which has been linked to lymphedema in patients with Emberger syndrome. Together, these observations and future studies inspired by these results have potential to lead to the development of strategies for the treatment of lymphatic disorders.
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