Taija Mäkinen – Regulation of lymphatic vasculature

The aim of our research is to understand how lymphatic vessels are formed and to gain insight into the mechanisms that underlie lymphatic disorders.

Lymphatic vasculature constitutes a network of vessels critical for the maintenance of the body’s fluid balance. Failure of the lymphatic vessels can lead to a disabling disease called lymphoedema for which there is no cure or effective treatment. Recent studies have revealed important new roles of lymphatic vasculature in inflammation, immunity, lipid metabolism, blood pressure regulation and cancer metastasis. Understanding mechanisms of lymphangiogenesis may thus enable development of new therapies for common diseases that affect a large number of people worldwide.

Our laboratory aims to understand how endothelial cells lining lymphatic vessels communicate with each other and the tissue environment to co-ordinate vascular morphogenesis and acquire specific functionalities. We utilise and develop advanced mouse genetic tools to spatially and temporally control expression of genes in specific cell types of interest.

By identifying and functionally characterising genes causative of hereditary lymphoedema we additionally aim to uncover mechanisms of vascular development that are directly relevant to human pathology.


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Microscope image lymphatic vessels