The role of non-resolving inflammation in atherosclerosis

J Clin Invest. 2018 Jul 2;128(7):2713-2723. doi: 10.1172/JCI97950. Epub 2018 Jul 2.


Non-resolving inflammation drives the development of clinically dangerous atherosclerotic lesions by promoting sustained plaque inflammation, large necrotic cores, thin fibrous caps, and thrombosis. Resolution of inflammation is not merely a passive return to homeostasis, but rather an active process mediated by specific molecules, including fatty acid-derived specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs). In advanced atherosclerosis, there is an imbalance between levels of SPMs and proinflammatory lipid mediators, which results in sustained leukocyte influx into lesions, inflammatory macrophage polarization, and impaired efferocytosis. In animal models of advanced atherosclerosis, restoration of SPMs limits plaque progression by suppressing inflammation, enhancing efferocytosis, and promoting an increase in collagen cap thickness. This Review discusses the roles of non-resolving inflammation in atherosclerosis and highlights the unique therapeutic potential of SPMs in blocking the progression of clinically dangerous plaques.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Inflammation Mediators / therapeutic use
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipoxygenases / metabolism
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / drug therapy
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / metabolism
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / pathology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lipoxygenases