Lymphatic filariasis: perspectives on lymphatic remodeling and contractile dysfunction in filarial disease pathogenesis.
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Lymphatic filariasis, one of the most debilitating diseases associated with the lymphatic system, affects over a hundred million people worldwide and manifests itself in a variety of severe clinical pathologies. The filarial parasites specifically target the lymphatics and impair lymph flow, which is critical for the normal functions of the lymphatic system in maintenance of body fluid balance and physiological interstitial fluid transport. The resultant contractile dysfunction of the lymphatics causes fluid accumulation and lymphedema, one of the major pathologies associated with filarial infection. In this review, we take a closer look at the contractile mechanisms of the lymphatics, its altered functions, and remodeling during an inflammatory state and how it relates to the severe pathogenesis underlying a filarial infection. We further elaborate on the complex host-parasite interactions, and molecular mechanisms contributing to the disease pathogenesis. The overall emphasis is on elucidating some of the emerging concepts and new directions that aim to harness the process of lymphangiogenesis or enhance contractility in a dysfunctional lymphatics, thereby restoring the fluid imbalance and mitigating the pathological conditions of lymphatic filariasis.