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Optical projection tomography reveals dynamics of HEV growth after immunization with protein plus CFA and features shared with HEVs in acute autoinflammatory lymphadenopathy

Kumar, V;Chyou, S;Stein, JV;Lu, TT;

The vascular-stromal compartment of lymph nodes is important for lymph node function, and high endothelial venules (HEVs) play a critical role in controlling the entry of recirculating lymphocytes. In autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases, lymph node swelling is often accompanied by apparent HEV expansion and, potentially, targeting HEV expansion could be used therapeutically to limit autoimmunity. In previous studies using mostly flow cytometry analysis, we defined three differentially regulated phases of lymph node vascular-stromal growth: initiation, expansion, and the re-establishment of vascular quiescence and stabilization. In this study, we use optical projection tomography to better understand the morphologic aspects of HEV growth upon immunization with ovalbumin/CFA (OVA/CFA). We find HEV elongation as well as modest arborization during the initiation phase, increased arborization during the expansion phase, and, finally, vessel narrowing during the re-establishment of vascular quiescence and stabilization. We also examine acutely enlarged autoinflammatory lymph nodes induced by regulatory T cell depletion and show that HEVs are expanded and morphologically similar to the expanded HEVs in OVA/CFA-stimulated lymph nodes. These results reinforce the idea of differentially regulated, distinct phases of vascular-stromal growth after immunization and suggest that insights gained from studying immunization-induced lymph node vascular growth may help to understand how the lymph node vascular-stromal compartment could be therapeutically targeted in autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases.