Regular Article

Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 328, Issue 2, pp 317-328

First online:

Basement membrane protein distribution in LYVE-1-immunoreactive lymphatic vessels of normal tissues and ovarian carcinomas

  • Noora VainionpääAffiliated withInstitute of Biomedicine/Anatomy, University of Helsinki Email author 
  • , Ralf BützowAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, Haartman Institute University of HelsinkiDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Research Laboratory, Biomedicum, Helsinki University Central Hospital
  • , Mika HukkanenAffiliated withInstitute of Biomedicine/Anatomy, University of Helsinki
  • , David G. JacksonAffiliated withMRC Human Immunology Unit, Institute of Molecular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital
  • , Taina PihlajaniemiAffiliated withBiocenter Oulu and Department of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Collagen Research Unit, University of Oulu
  • , Lynn Y. SakaiAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Shriners Hospital for Children, Oregon Health and Science University
  • , Ismo VirtanenAffiliated withInstitute of Biomedicine/Anatomy, University of Helsinki

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The endothelial cells of blood vessels assemble basement membranes that play a role in vessel formation, maintenance and function, and in the migration of inflammatory cells. However, little is known about the distribution of basement membrane constituents in lymphatic vessels. We studied the distribution of basement membrane proteins in lymphatic vessels of normal human skin, digestive tract, ovary and, as an example of tumours with abundant lymphatics, ovarian carcinomas. Basement membrane proteins were localized by immunohistochemistry with monoclonal antibodies, whereas lymphatic capillaries were detected with antibodies to the lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor-1, LYVE-1. In skin and ovary, fibrillar immunoreactivity for the laminin α4, β1, β2 and γ1 chains, type IV and XVIII collagens and nidogen-1 was found in the basement membrane region of the lymphatic endothelium, whereas also heterogeneous reactivity for the laminin α5 chain was detected in the digestive tract. Among ovarian carcinomas, intratumoural lymphatic vessels were found especially in endometrioid carcinomas. In addition to the laminin α4, β1, β2 and γ1 chains, type IV and XVIII collagens and nidogen-1, carcinoma lymphatics showed immunoreactivity for the laminin α5 chain and Lutheran glycoprotein, a receptor for the laminin α5 chain. In normal lymphatic capillaries, the presence of primarily α4 chain laminins may therefore compromise the formation of endothelial basement membrane, as these truncated laminins lack one of the three arms required for efficient network assembly. The localization of basement membrane proteins adjacent to lymphatic endothelia suggests a role for these proteins in lymphatic vessels. The distribution of the laminin α5 chain and Lutheran glycoprotein proposes a difference between normal and carcinoma lymphatic capillaries.


Basement membrane Lymphatic vessel Endothelium Laminin Ovarian carcinoma Human