J Physiol. 2016 Dec 16;:
Obesity is a deleterious condition characterized by excess adipose tissue deposition and a body mass index greater than 30.0. It is a major risk factor for many diseases, including coronary heart disease and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Obesity leads to systemic low-grade inflammation caused by cytokines and adipokines. Although obesity has effects on several bodily systems, the lymphatic system is especially important since its relationship with obesity is bidirectional. Obesity is the major contributing factor to the progression and development of lymphedema and impaired lymphatic function is thought to regulate the pathology of obesity in organ systems via modulation of the differentiation and migration of inflammatory cells. It has been shown obesity leads to lymphatic dysfunction which is characterized by impaired lymphatic vessel pumping and density, increased lymphatic vessel leakiness, and altered lymphatic endothelial cell gene expression (Savetsky et al. 2014). Despite the clinical importance of lymphatic physiology in obese patients, an effective therapeutic strategy to regulate lymphatic function remains to be determined. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.