Viral infection and atherosclerosis

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2018 Dec;37(12):2225-2233. doi: 10.1007/s10096-018-3370-z. Epub 2018 Sep 5.


Several risk factors have been described for the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Infectious diseases are suggested to be a causative factor, and some viruses have been studied for their relation with atherosclerotic diseases. Studies report two hypotheses, direct and indirect effects, for the role of viral infections in atherogenesis. Viruses are able to initiate atherosclerosis by two different pathways. They can exert their direct effects on atherogenesis by infecting vascular cells and then inducing inflammation in the endothelium and smooth muscle cells. Alternatively, they can also apply indirect effects by infecting non-vascular cells and inducing systemic inflammation. In this review, we consider the available data about the effects and correlations of DNA and RNA viruses on atherosclerosis.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Inflammation; Viral infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Atherosclerosis / virology*
  • DNA Virus Infections / complications*
  • DNA Viruses
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / virology*
  • Mice
  • RNA Virus Infections / complications*
  • RNA Viruses
  • Risk Factors