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Lymphatic vessels are present throughout the entire body in all mammals and function to regulate tissue fluid balance, lipid transport and survey the immune system. Despite the presence of an extensive lymphatic plexus within the heart, until recently the importance of the cardiac lymphatic vasculature and its origins were unknown. Several studies have described the basic anatomy of the developing cardiac lymphatic vasculature and more recently the detailed development of the murine cardiac lymphatics has been documented, with important insight into their cellular sources during embryogenesis. In this review we initially describe the development of systemic lymphatic vasculature, to provide the background for a comparative description of the spatiotemporal development of the cardiac lymphatic vessels, including detail of both canonical, typically venous, and noncanonical (hemogenic endothelium) cellular sources. Subsequently, we address the response of the cardiac lymphatic network to myocardial infarction (heart attack) and the therapeutic potential of targeting cardiac lymphangiogenesis.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Anat

Publication Date





305 - 315


cardiac lymphatics, cellular origins, lymphangiogenesis, lymphatic development