Recent advances in our understanding of the lymphatic system, its function, development, and role in pathophysiology have changed our views on its importance. Historically thought to be solely involved in the transport of tissue fluid, lipids, and immune cells, the lymphatic system displays great heterogeneity and plasticity and is actively involved in immune cell regulation. Interference in any of these processes can be deleterious, both at the developmental and adult level. Preclinical studies into the cardiac lymphatic system have shown that invoking lymphangiogenesis and enhancing immune cell trafficking in ischaemic hearts can reduce myocardial oedema, reduce inflammation, and improve cardiac outcome. Understanding how immune cells and the lymphatic endothelium interact is also vital to understanding how the lymphatic vascular network can be manipulated to improve immune cell clearance. In this Review, we examine the different types of immune cells involved in fibrotic repair following myocardial infarction. We also discuss the development and function of the cardiac lymphatic vasculature and how some immune cells interact with the lymphatic endothelium in the heart. Finally, we establish how promoting lymphangiogenesis is now a prime therapeutic target for reducing immune cell persistence, inflammation, and oedema to restore heart function in ischaemic heart disease.
LYVE1, VEGF-C, cell clearance, immune cells, lymphangiogenesis, lymphatic, myocardial infarction