The lymphatics fulfill a vital physiological function as the conduits through which leucocytes traffic between the tissues and draining lymph nodes for the initiation and modulation of immune responses. However, until recently many of the molecular mechanisms controlling such migration have been unclear. As a result of careful research, it is now apparent that the process is regulated at multiple stages from initial leucocyte entry and intraluminal crawling in peripheral tissue lymphatics, through to leucocyte exit in draining lymph nodes where the migrating cells either participate in immune responses or return to the circulation via efferent lymph. Furthermore, it is increasingly evident that most if not all leucocyte populations migrate in lymph and that such migration is not only important for immune modulation, but also for the timely repair and resolution of tissue inflammation. In this article, I review the latest research findings in these areas, arising from new insights into the distinctive ultrastructure of lymphatic capillaries and lymph node sinuses. Accordingly, I highlight the emerging importance of the leucocyte glycocalyx and its novel interactions with the endothelial receptor LYVE-1, the intricacies of endothelial chemokine secretion and sequestration that direct leucocyte trafficking and the significance of the process for normal immune function and pathology.
LYVE-1, chemokine, dendritic cell, endothelium, hyaluronan, lymphatic, trafficking, transmigration