How Oxidized Low-Density Lipoprotein Activates Inflammatory Responses

Crit Rev Immunol. 2018;38(4):333-342. doi: 10.1615/CritRevImmunol.2018026483.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death in the United States and worldwide. The most common cause of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis, or formation of fatty plaques in the arteries. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), termed "bad cholesterol", is a large molecule comprised of many proteins as well as lipids including cholesterol, phospholipids, and triglycerides. Circulating levels of LDL are directly associated with atherosclerosis disease severity. Once thought to simply be caused by passive retention of LDL in the vasculature, atherosclerosis studies over the past 40-50 years have uncovered a much more complex mechanism. It has now become well established that within the vasculature, LDL can undergo many different types of oxidative modifications such as esterification and lipid peroxidation. The resulting oxidized LDL (oxLDL) has been found to have antigenic potential and contribute heavily to atherosclerosis associated inflammation, activating both innate and adaptive immunity. This review discusses the many proposed mechanisms by which oxidized LDL modulates inflammatory responses and how this might modulate atherosclerosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / immunology*


  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • oxidized low density lipoprotein