Granulomatous inflammation in tuberculosis and sarcoidosis: Does the lymphatic system contribute to disease?

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A striking and unexplained feature of granulomatous inflammation is its anatomical association with the lymphatic system. Accumulating evidence suggests that lymphatic tracks and granulomas may alter the function of each other. The formation of new lymphatics, or lymphangiogenesis, is an adaptive response to tumor formation, infection, and wound healing. Granulomas also may induce lymphangiogenesis which, through a variety of mechanisms, could contribute to disease outcomes in tuberculosis and sarcoidosis. On the other hand, alterations in lymph node function and lymphatic draining may be primary events which attenuate the risk and severity of granulomatous inflammation. This review begins with an introduction of granulomatous inflammation and the lymphatic system. A role of the lymphatic system in tuberculosis and sarcoidosis is then hypothesized. With a focus on lymphangiogenesis in these diseases, and on the potential for this process to promote dissemination, parallels are established with the well-established role of lymphangiogenesis in tumor biology.

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Journal BioEssays
Volume 41
Issue number 11
Pages 1900086
Available online
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