A model for gene therapy of human hereditary lymphedema

MJ Karkkainen, A Saaristo, L Jussila, KA Karila, EC Lawrence, K Pajusola, H Beuler, A Eichmann, Risto Kauppinen, MI Kettunen, S Yla-Herttuala, DN Finegold, RE Ferrell, K Alitalo

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451 Citations (Scopus)


Primary human lymphedema (Milroy's disease), characterized by a chronic and disfiguring swelling of the extremities, is associated with heterozygous inactivating missense mutations of the gene encoding vascular endothelial growth factor C/D receptor (VEGFR-3). Here, we describe a mouse model and a possible treatment for primary lymphedema. Like the human patients, the lymphedema (Chy) mice have an inactivating Vegfr3 mutation in their germ line, and swelling of the limbs because of hypoplastic cutaneous, but not visceral, lymphatic vessels. Neuropilin (NRP)-2 bound VEGF-C and was expressed in the visceral, but not in the cutaneous, lymphatic endothelia, suggesting that it may participate in the pathogenesis of lymphedema. By using virus-mediated VEGF-C gene therapy, we were able to generate functional lymphatic vessels in the lymphedema mice. Our results suggest that growth factor gene therapy is applicable to human lymphedema and provide a paradigm for other diseases associated with mutant receptors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12677-12682
Number of pages6
JournalNational Academy of Sciences. Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2001


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