A critical analysis of the role of cholesterol in atherogenesis

Atherosclerosis. 1999 Feb;142(2):265-8. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9150(98)00270-6.


Serum hypercholesterolemia is theorized to accelerate atherogenesis by augmenting cholesterol accumulation (insudation) in the arterial intima. The author views this theory as an example of what the noted philosopher of science Imre Lakatos called 'degenerative science', because data have forced several modifications of the theory. Although the theory that some fraction of intimal cholesterol causes atherosclerosis is not yet disproved, the author favors the hypothesis that serum hypercholesterolemia accelerates atherogenesis and contributes to symptomatic atherosclerosis by increasing blood viscosity and the mechanical fragility of atherosclerotic plaques, making them vulnerable to rupture and thrombosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology
  • Arteriosclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Blood Viscosity
  • Cholesterol / physiology*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / complications
  • Hypercholesterolemia / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Cholesterol