The passive biomechanics of human pelvic collecting lymphatic vessels
Athanasiou, D; Edgar, LT; Jafarnejad, M; Nixon, K; Duarte, D; Hawkins, ED; Jamalian, S; Cunnea, P; Lo Celso, C; Kobayashi, S; Fotopoulou, C; Moore, JE, Jr
The lymphatic system has a major significance in the metastatic pathways in women's cancers. Lymphatic pumping depends on both extrinsic and intrinsic mechanisms, and the mechanical behavior of lymphatic vessels regulates the function of the system. However, data on the mechanical properties and function of human lymphatics are lacking. Our aim is to characterize, for the first time, the passive biomechanical behavior of human collecting lymphatic vessels removed at pelvic lymph node dissection during primary debulking surgeries for epithelial ovarian cancer. Isolated vessels were cannulated and then pressurized at varying levels of applied axial stretch in a calcium-free Krebs buffer. Pressurized vessels were then imaged using multi-photon microscopy for collagen-elastin structural composition and fiber orientation. Both pressure-diameter and force-elongation responses were highly nonlinear, and axial stretching of the vessel served to decrease diameter at constant pressure. Pressure-diameter behavior for the human vessels is very similar to data from rat mesenteric vessels, though the human vessels were approximately 10x larger than those from rats. Multiphoton microscopy revealed the vessels to be composed of an inner layer of elastin with an outer layer of aligned collagen fibers. This is the first study that successfully described the passive biomechanical response and composition of human lymphatic vessels in patients with ovarian cancer. Future work should expand on this knowledge base with investigations of vessels from other anatomical locations, contractile behavior, and the implications on metastatic cell transport.