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Fellow: Echoe Bouta, PhD

Institution: Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Radiation Oncology

Principal Investigator: Tim Padera, PhD

LF Funding History: HRiA/LE&RN/FDRS Postdoctoral Fellowship

Hypothesis: To determine the impact of increased fat on lymphatic vessel and immune function in mice.

Collaborative Opportunities: Echoe and Tim are looking for collaborations of mouse models of lipedema to measure lymphatic function, and also meet with clinicians in the Boston area who treat patients with lipedema.

Related News:

LE&RN's interview of Echoe and her research goals

Echoe's YouTube presentation, "An Overview of the Current State of Lymphatic Research"

 

Project: Mechanisms of Impaired Lymphatic Function in Mice with Increased Adiposity

Lipedema is a chronic disorder that is characterized by painful swelling restricted to the lower limbs caused by increased fat stores that even a strict diet regimen is typically unable to eliminate. While lipedema is a prevalent disease, little is known about what causes it, and therefore treatment of lipedema patients is often ineffective. Clinical studies suggest that lipedema patients have lymphatic system dysfunction and reduced immune function, as they are unable to clear infections effectively.

The initial goal of this study is to determine how lymphatic vessel and immune function changes in mice with increased fat stores. We will next determine what molecules cause lymphatic dysfunction. Finally, we will increase lymphatic function by targeting a pathway known to be important to lymphatic vessel contraction, as improving lymphatic function is a potential therapy for lipedema patients. This study will provide critical knowledge about the mechanism of lipedema progression and allow testing of potential therapies.

A whole mount of the popliteal lymphatic vessels that is stained for smooth muscle actin. Image courtesy of Echoe Bouta and Tim Padera, Massachusetts General Hospital.

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