Immunocytochemical examination of onchocercal nodule tissues containing adult Onchocerca volvulus using immuno-markers for blood and lymphatic vessels (vWF, D2-40, podoplanin, Prox-1, and Lyve1) shows a distinct pattern of distribution of these vessels within nodules. Blood vessels were commonly seen associated with organized lymphoid cellular aggregates in the both the outer and inner areas of the nodules. In contrast, the majority of the lymphatic vessel positivity was seen in the central zone in close apposition to the adult parasites, and the remainder usually associated with microfilariae in the outer areas of the nodule. These findings suggest an intimate relationship between adult O. volvulus and lymphatic vessels, including the likely proliferation of lymphatic endothelial cells (lymphangectasia) akin to that seen with other filariae. These findings indicate that adult O. volvulus may migrate via the lymphatic system, and that clinical manifestations of this disease that involve tissue edema may be the result of the location of these worms in the lymphatic system.
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