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Selective matrix remodeling to increase interstitial flow in lymphedema
Lymphedema is a disease characterized by swelling resulting from the accumulation of fluid in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the skin. In order to alleviate this swelling, the authors sought to selectively degrade certain hydrophilic molecules in the ECM called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). GAGs are long unbranched sugar molecules present in the ECM that attract water to their numerous negative charges. The authors hypothesized that the density of GAGs would increase in lymphedema and inhibit fluid from leaving the tissue. An existing mouse tail model of experimental lymphedema that reproduced important features of the human condition was used to evaluate GAG content in swollen tissue. In this model, a surgical excision of tissue was made circumferentially around the tail that caused swelling distal to the wound site. Tissue distal to the wound site was analyzed via two assays; one that measured hyaluronan (an unsulfated GAG) and another that measured sulfated GAGs (including Dermatan Sulfate and Chondroitin Sulfate), at various timepoints post surgical intervention. Hyaluronan (HA) levels were significantly higher than control (tissues with no surgical intervention) by day 5 (p