Isolation and characterization of lymphatic microvascular endothelial cells from human tonsils

Emirena Garrafa, Giulio Alessandri, Anna Benetti, Daniela Turetta, Attilio Corradi, Anna Maria Cantoni, Edoardo Cervi, Stefano Bonardelli, Eugenio Parati, Stefano Maria Giulini, Barbara Ensoli, Arnaldo Caruso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) have isolated prevalently from human derma and tumors. As specialized lymphatic organs within the oropharynx, palatine tonsils are easily obtained and rich in lymphatic venules. Using a two-step purification method based on the sorting of endothelial cells with Ulex Europaeus Agglutinin 1 (UEA-1 )-coated beads, followed by purification with monoclonal antibody D2-40, we successfully purified LECs from human palatine tonsils. The LECs were expanded on flasks coated with collagen type 1 and fibronectin for up to 8-10 passages and then analyzed for phenotypic and functional properties. Cultured cells retained the phenotypic pattern of the lymphatic endothelium of palatine tonsils and expressed functional VEGFR-3 molecules. In fact, stimulation with VEGFR-3 ligand, the vascular endothelium grow factor C, induced a marked increase in cell proliferation. Similarly to blood endothelial cells (BECs), LECs were able to form tube-like structure when seeded in Cultrex basement membrane extract. Comparative studies performed on LECs derived from palatine tonsils and iliac lymphatic vessels (ILVs), obtained with the same procedures, showed substantial discrepancies in the expression of various lymphatic markers. This points to the existence of micro- and macrovessel-derived LECs with different phenotypes, possibly involving different biological activities and functions. Palatine tonsil- and ILV-derived LECs may, therefore, represent new models for investigating function and biochemical properties of these lymphatic endothelia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-113
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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