Eureka Alert

Inflammation is currently a well-documented component of atheroslcerosis pathogenesis, which plays a role at each stage of the disease development. Local activation of endothelial cells causing increase endothelial permeability, infiltration of intima with atherogenic low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and recruitment of circulating immune cells is regarded as a first step of atherosclerotic plaque development. Circulating modified LDL is immunogenic, and forms highly atherogenic aggregates with antibodies that are later accumulated in the arterial wall. In growing plaques, circulating monocytes are attracted to the lesions site by cytokine signalling. In the arterial wall, monocyte-derived macrophages play an active role in lipid accumulation, internalizing large associates of lipoprotein particles by means of phagocytosis. Phagocytic cells with cytoplasm filled by stored lipid droplets called foam cells can be found in developing plaques in large quantities. There is evidence that lipid accumulation in the arterial wall cells in its turn activates cytokine signalling leading to a vicious cycle and further aggravating the disease. However, the immune response in atherosclerosis is not limited to enhanced inflammation, since anti-inflammatory cytokines and alternatively-activated (M2) macrophages are also present in atherosclerotic plaques. Anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages are likely to be responsible for hte resolution of the inflammatory response and


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