Immunobiology of Atherosclerosis: A Complex Net of Interactions

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Oct 24;20(21):5293. doi: 10.3390/ijms20215293.


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality worldwide, and atherosclerosis the principal factor underlying cardiovascular events. Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by endothelial dysfunction, intimal lipid deposition, smooth muscle cell proliferation, cell apoptosis and necrosis, and local and systemic inflammation, involving key contributions to from innate and adaptive immunity. The balance between proatherogenic inflammatory and atheroprotective anti-inflammatory responses is modulated by a complex network of interactions among vascular components and immune cells, including monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells, and T, B, and foam cells; these interactions modulate the further progression and stability of the atherosclerotic lesion. In this review, we take a global perspective on existing knowledge about the pathogenesis of immune responses in the atherosclerotic microenvironment and the interplay between the major innate and adaptive immune factors in atherosclerosis. Studies such as this are the basis for the development of new therapies against atherosclerosis.

Keywords: B-cell; T-cell; atherosclerosis; conventional dendritic cell; foam cell; macrophage; monocyte; monocyte-derived dendritic cell; plasmacytoid dendritic cell; regulatory dendritic cell.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Monocytes / metabolism