Macrophages and T cells in atherosclerosis: a translational perspective

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2019 Aug 1;317(2):H375-H386. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00206.2019. Epub 2019 Jun 14.


Atherosclerosis is now considered a chronic maladaptive inflammatory disease. The hallmark feature in both human and murine disease is atherosclerotic plaques. Macrophages and various T-cell lineages play a crucial role in atherosclerotic plaque establishment and disease progression. Humans and mice share many of the same processes that occur within atherogenesis. The various similarities enable considerable insight into disease mechanisms and those which contribute to cardiovascular complications. The apolipoprotein E-null and low-density lipoprotein receptor-null mice have served as the foundation for further immunological pathway manipulation to identify pro- and antiatherogenic pathways in attempt to reveal more novel therapeutic targets. In this review, we provide a translational perspective and discuss the roles of macrophages and various T-cell lineages in contrasting proatherosclerotic and atheroprotective settings.

Keywords: T cells; atherogenesis; atherosclerosis; macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / immunology*
  • Arteries / metabolism
  • Arteries / pathology
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology*
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Macrophage Activation
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • Translational Medical Research


  • Cytokines