In Vivo Imaging of Lymphatic Vessels and Lymph Nodes

  • Takeshi ImamuraEmail author
  • Takashi Saitou
  • Sota Takanezawa
  • Ryosuke Kawakami


Intravital (in vivo) imaging of lymphatic vessels and lymph node is clinically necessary during diagnosis or treatment of many conditions and diseases, including lymphedema and cancer metastasis. Cancers are complex diseases, and the cancer microenvironment, including lymphatic vessels and blood vessels, play important roles throughout cancer development, from carcinogenesis to malignancy. Efforts aimed at elucidating the pathology of complex cancers and developing novel therapeutic agents for cancer treatment are limited by the exclusive use of in vitro analysis of conventional cultured cells and tissue sections. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze cancer cells and their microenvironments spatiotemporally in vivo.

To address this issue, in vivo imaging has attracted attention in cancer research. Multiple in vivo imaging technologies have been developed, including computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and these modalities already serve as powerful tools for the diagnosis of cancer. Optical imaging in vivo using biological light has not yet been applied clinically so much; however, it has superior spatiotemporal resolution, making it possible to perform real-time observation of microscopic structures such as blood and lymphatic system in living animals. In this chapter, we first review technologies for visualizing the blood and lymphatic system for clinical applications, and then describe the use of in vivo imaging technology in experimental analysis of cancer cell growth, angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis, and lymph node metastasis, focusing in particular on the usefulness of in vivo optical imaging technology.


In vivo imaging Fluorescence imaging Multiphoton laser excitation microscopy Light-sheet illumination microscopy 



There are many important papers in this field; for reasons of space, we have not been able to mention all of them. We apologize to those investigators whose papers could not be cited.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takeshi Imamura
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Takashi Saitou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sota Takanezawa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ryosuke Kawakami
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Medicine for PathogenesisEhime University Graduate School of MedicineToon CityJapan
  2. 2.Translational Research CenterEhime University HospitalToon CityJapan

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