Lymphatic vessel networks can expand and regress, with consequences for interstitial fluid drainage and nutrient supply to tissues, inflammation, and tumor spread. A diet high in sodium stimulates hyperplasia of cutaneous lymphatic capillaries. We hypothesized that dietary sodium restriction would have the opposite effect, shrinking lymphatic capillaries in the tongue. Lingual lymphatic capillary density and size was significantly reduced in mice fed a low-sodium diet (0.03%) for 3 weeks compared with control-fed mice. Blood vessel density was unchanged. Despite lymphatic capillary shrinkage, lingual edema was not observed. The effect on lymphatic capillaries was reversible, as lymphatic density and size in the tongue were restored by 3 weeks on a control diet. Lymphatic hyperplasia induced by a high-sodium diet is dependent on infiltrating macrophages. However, lingual CD68+ macrophage density was unchanged by sodium deficiency, indicating that distinct mechanisms may mediate lymphatic regression. Further studies are needed to test whether dietary sodium restriction is an effective, non-invasive co-therapy for oral cancer.
- lymphatic vessels
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