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To the Bone

Lymphatic vessels imaged in bone as they support regeneration after injury

14 March 2023

To the Bone

Our bodies are served by a double supply network – our blood carries important cells and chemicals to distant tissues, while our lymphatic system keeps fluids balanced, siphons off waste and helps immune cells slosh into place. The two systems complement each other, but in some tissues they’re difficult to spot and in bones, the lymphatic system has remained elusive. Here, using gentle pattens of lasers, light-sheet microscopy allows researchers to peek inside this mouse’s knee joint, and pinpoint the lymph vessels (highlighted in blue) in the surrounding bone (purple). The team find that certain types of stress cause lymphangiogenesis –a growth which expands the lymphatic system’s support for healing bones that's often dulled in old age. Researchers hope targeting the genes and proteins involved may help the lymph to continue guiding bone regeneration in older human limbs.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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