Lymphatic Thrombosis and Impaired Lymph Drainage in Cigarette Smoke-Associated Emphysema
The lymphatic vasculature is critical for lung function, but defects in lymphatic function in the pathogenesis of lung disease is understudied. In mice, lymphatic dysfunction alone is sufficient to cause lung injury that resembles human emphysema. Whether lymphatic function is disrupted in cigarette smoke (CS)-induced emphysema is unknown. In this study, we investigated lung lymphatic function in the pathogenesis of CS-induced emphysema. Analysis of human lung tissue revealed significant lung lymphatic thrombosis in patients with emphysema compared to control smokers that increased with disease severity. In vitro assays demonstrated a direct effect of CS on lymphatic endothelial cell integrity. In a mouse model, CS exposure led to lung lymphatic thrombosis, decreased lymphatic drainage, and impaired leukocyte trafficking that preceded emphysema. Proteomic analysis of lymph confirmed upregulation of coagulation and inflammatory pathways in the lymphatics of CS-exposed mice compared to control mice. These data suggest that CS exposure results in lung lymphatic dysfunction with thrombosis, impaired leukocyte trafficking, and changes in the composition of lymph. In patients with emphysema, lung lymphatic thrombosis is seen with increasing disease severity. These studies for the first time demonstrate lung lymphatic dysfunction after cigarette smoke exposure and suggest a novel component in the pathogenesis of emphysema.