Sci Adv. 2021 Jul 16;7(29):eabf4335. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abf4335. Print 2021 Jul.
The mechanisms maintaining adult lymphatic vascular specialization throughout life and their role in coordinating inter-organ communication to sustain homeostasis remain elusive. We report that inactivation of the mechanosensitive transcription factor Foxc2 in adult lymphatic endothelium leads to a stepwise intestine-to-lung systemic failure. Foxc2 loss compromised the gut epithelial barrier, promoted dysbiosis and bacterial translocation to peripheral lymph nodes, and increased circulating levels of purine metabolites and angiopoietin-2. Commensal microbiota depletion dampened systemic pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, corrected intestinal lymphatic dysfunction, and improved survival. Foxc2 loss skewed the specialization of lymphatic endothelial subsets, leading to populations with mixed, pro-fibrotic identities and to emergence of lymph node-like endothelial cells. Our study uncovers a cross-talk between lymphatic vascular function and commensal microbiota, provides single-cell atlas of lymphatic endothelial subtypes, and reveals organ-specific and systemic effects of dysfunctional lymphatics. These effects potentially contribute to the pathogenesis of diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, or lymphedema.
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