Lymphatics in Health and Disease in the Digestive System

May 2021 Council

Lead Division/Office


Point(s) of Contact

Patricia Greenwel, Ph.D.

Executive Summary

The purpose of this initiative is to continue supporting research related to the role of lymphatics in health and disease in the digestive system. Lymphatics malfunctions have been implicated in several disease states including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and liver fibrosis/cirrhosis. Despite the importance of lymphatics in the digestive system, very little is known on mechanisms governing their interactions with the different organs during physiological and pathological conditions, and on the mechanisms whereby alterations of lymphatic vessel function affect organ function. NIDDK has actively participated in activities to encourage the study of lymphatics in health and disease, including workshops and funding opportunity announcements. During the past few years there have been significant advances in the understanding of the genetic and molecular mechanisms by which lymphatic vessels grow and function. However, progress in understanding the role of gastrointestinal (GI) lymphatics in health and disease is lagging due in part to the lack of synergistic collaborations between experts with broad knowledge of the lymphatic system and investigators conducting in-depth research on digestive and/or liver diseases. We now propose to renew a lymphatics initiative aimed at stimulating and enhancing partnerships between investigators in both fields, with the ultimate goal of advancing research in GI lymphatics.