Temporal Dynamics of the Rat Thoracic Duct Contractility in the Presence of Imposed Flow.
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BACKGROUND: The initial periods of increased flow inside lymphatic vessels demonstrate specific temporary patterns of self-tuning of lymphatic vessel contractility that are heterogeneous across regional lymphatic networks. The current literature primarily refers to the immediate and fast reactions of the lymphangions to increases in basal flow. Until now, there were no available data on how the lymphatic vessels react to comparatively longer periods of imposed flow. METHODS AND RESULTS: In this study, we measured and analyzed the contractility of the rat thoracic duct segments, isolated, cannulated, and pressurized at 3cm H2O at no imposed flow conditions and during 4 hours of imposed flow (constant transaxial pressure gradient of 2cm H2O). We found the development of a progressing lymphatic tonic relaxation and inhibition of the lymphatic contraction frequency over 4 hours of imposed flow. After a short initial decrease, lymphatic phasic contraction amplitude rose significantly during the first hour of imposed flow, and it demonstrated a trend to return toward control levels after 3 hours of imposed flow. As a result, the fractional pump flow (active lymph pumping per minute) of isolated thoracic duct segments reached and maintained a statistically significant decrease (from control no-flow conditions) at the end of the third hour of imposed flow. CONCLUSIONS: Our new findings provide a better understanding of how lymphatic contractility changes during the development of prolonged periods of steady lymph flow. The latter may occur during the initial phases of development of an inflammatory-related tissue edema.