Inflammatory mechanisms in atherosclerosis

Hamostaseologie. 2014;34(1):63-71. doi: 10.5482/HAMO-13-09-0050. Epub 2013 Dec 17.


Throughout the last two decades inflammation has been recognized as the central mechanism underlying atherogenesis. A multitude of basic science work demonstrates the pivotal role of inflammatory processes during every step of atherosclerotic plaque formation: From initiation via propagation to complication. This review describes some of the key mechanisms involved with a particular focus on the diverse group of inflammatory cells and their subsets that distinctly contribute to atherogenic and anti-atherogenic phenomena. Furthermore, we summarize the controlling action of a tight network of co-stimulatory molecules and cytokines orchestrating the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effector functions. Finally, the current status of clinical trials evaluating anti-inflammatory/immune-modulatory treatment strategies is summarized and an outlook for future therapeutic implications is provided.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; clinical trials; inflammation; inflammatory cells; mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology*
  • Blood Vessels / immunology*
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Immunologic Factors / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Models, Immunological


  • Cytokines
  • Immunologic Factors