About this Research Topic
Endothelial cells (ECs) form the inner cellular lining of all blood and lymphatic vessels. In addition to their structural functions and role in controlling hemostasis and vascular tone (in blood vessel walls) as well as drainage of interstitial fluid (in lymphatic vessels), ECs are an essential component of a functional immune system. In this context, ECs play an active and multi-faceted role in regulating immune responses via indirect routes, i.e. by mediating leukocyte trafficking between the blood, interstitial tissue and lymphatic compartments during homeostasis and inflammation. Although the sequence of events guiding leukocyte passage through endothelial barriers is well described, the involved molecular mechanisms, signaling networks, and tissue-specific pathways are still incompletely understood. Furthermore, increasing evidence implies an important role of blood and lymphatic ECs in regulating immune responses by modifying antigen-presenting as well as immune effector cell functions via direct cell-cell contact and EC-secreted soluble factors. For example, tumor-associated blood ECs have been reported to actively prevent T cells to infiltrate the tumor parenchyma, whereas lymphatic ECs appear to mediate peripheral self-tolerance and may directly regulate CD8+ T cell-dependent anti-tumor and anti-viral immune responses.
EC dysfunction is associated with multiple pathologies involving inflammatory reactions, ranging from auto-immune diseases to chronic infections and cancer. The detailed investigation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating the cross-talk between ECs and the immune system is therefore not only essential for our basic understanding of host defense responses, but also fundamental for the development of novel therapeutic strategies targeting ECs for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.
This Research Topic aims to present and discuss recent developments on the role of blood and lymphatic vessel ECs in mediating leukocyte trafficking and regulating leukocyte functions in the context of acute and chronic immune responses. We welcome authors to submit Original Research, Review, Mini-Review, Perspective and Opinion articles focusing on, but not limited to, the following subtopics:
• Blood vessel ECs in leukocyte transmigration (e.g. EC signaling pathways, junctional remodeling)
• Lymphatic ECs in immune cell trafficking
• Blood/lymphatic vessel ECs in regulating leukocyte phenotype and function
• Role of ECs in pathological immune responses (e.g. auto-immunity and cancer)
• Tissue heterogeneity and tissue-specific functions of ECs in immunity
• Therapeutic approaches to target ECs in immune-related diseases
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