Erythrocyte Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC): diagnostic and therapeutic implications in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease

Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2011 Apr;32(4):417-24. doi: 10.1038/aps.2011.13. Epub 2011 Mar 28.


Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease. The last three decades efforts have been made to elucidate the biochemical pathways that are implicated in the process of atherogenesis and plaque development. Chemokines are crucial mediators in every step of this process. Additionally, cellular components of the peripheral blood have been proved important mediators in the formation and progression of atherosclerotic lesions. However, until recently data were mostly focusing on leukocytes and platelets. Erythrocytes were considered unreceptive bystanders and limited data supported their importance in the progression and destabilization of the atherosclerotic plaque. Recently erythrocytes, through their Duffy antigen receptor for chemokines (DARC), have been proposed as appealing regulators of chemokine-induced pathways. Dissimilar to every other chemokine receptor DARC possesses high affinity for several ligands from both CC and CXC chemokine sub-families. Moreover, DARC is not coupled to a G-protein or any other intracellular signalling system; thus it is incapable of generating second messages. The exact biochemical role of erythrocyte DARC remains to be determined. It is however challenging the fact that DARC is a regulator of almost every CC and CXC chemokine ligand and therefore DARC antagonism could effectively block the complex pre-inflammatory chemokine network. In the present review we intent to provide recent evidence supporting the role of erythrocytes in atherosclerosis focusing on the erythrocyte-chemokine interaction through the Duffy antigen system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Atherosclerosis / therapy*
  • Duffy Blood-Group System / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Antigen / immunology*


  • Duffy Blood-Group System
  • Receptors, Antigen