Lymphatic muscle: a review of contractile function.
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A recent surge in lymphangiogenesis research has led to a greater understanding of lymphatic endothelial cell biology. However, a general understanding of lymphatic muscle cell biology lags far behind its endothelial counterpart. Lymphatics at the level of the collecting vessels and higher contain muscular walls capable of both tonic and phasic contractions, which both generate and regulate lymph flow. Because lymphatic contraction is crucial to lymphatic function, a solid understanding of lymphatic muscle development and function is necessary to understand lymphatic biology. This review summarizes the current body of lymphatic muscle research and addresses important questions that are currently unanswered.