Emerging Concepts of Vascular Cell Clonal Expansion in Atherosclerosis

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2022 Mar;42(3):e74-e84. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.121.316093. Epub 2022 Feb 3.


Clonal expansion is a process that can drive pathogenesis in human diseases, with atherosclerosis being a prominent example. Despite advances in understanding the etiology of atherosclerosis, clonality studies of vascular cells remain in an early stage. Recently, several paradigm-shifting preclinical studies have identified clonal expansion of progenitor cells in the vasculature in response to atherosclerosis. This review provides an overview of cell clonality in atherosclerotic progression, focusing particularly on smooth muscle cells and macrophages. We discuss key findings from the latest research that give insight into the mechanisms by which clonal expansion of vascular cells contributes to disease pathology. The further probing of these mechanisms will provide innovative directions for future progress in the understanding and therapy of atherosclerosis and its associated cardiovascular diseases.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; cardiovascular diseases; clone cells; macrophages; vascular smooth muscle.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology*
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Clone Cells / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / pathology*
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / etiology
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / pathology
  • Stem Cells / pathology