Pathologic lymphatic remodeling in lymphedema evolves during periods of tissue inflammation and hypoxia through poorly defined processes. In human and mouse lymphedema, there is a significant increase of hypoxia inducible factor 1 α (HIF-1α), but a reduction of HIF-2α protein expression in lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs). We questioned whether dysregulated expression of these transcription factors contributes to disease pathogenesis and found that LEC-specific deletion of Hif2α exacerbated lymphedema pathology. Even without lymphatic vascular injury, the loss of LEC-specific Hif2α caused anatomic pathology and a functional decline in fetal and adult mice. These findings suggest that HIF-2α is an important mediator of lymphatic health. HIF-2α promoted protective phosphorylated TIE2 (p-TIE2) signaling in LECs, a process also replicated by upregulating TIE2 signaling through adenovirus-mediated angiopoietin-1 (Angpt1) gene therapy. Our study suggests that HIF-2α normally promotes healthy lymphatic homeostasis and raises the exciting possibility that restoring HIF-2α pathways in lymphedema could mitigate long-term pathology and disability.
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