Is atherosclerosis an immunologically mediated disease?

Immunol Today. 1995 Jan;16(1):27-33. doi: 10.1016/0167-5699(95)80067-0.


In contrast to general beliefs, recent data from different laboratories have provided evidence that the first stages of atherosclerosis are of an inflammatory nature. Here, Georg Wick and colleagues suggest that an autoimmune reaction against heat shock protein 60 (Hsp60), expressed by endothelial cells in areas that are subject to increased haemodynamic stress, is the initiating event in atherogenesis. Humoral and T-cell-mediated immune responses against Hsp60 have both been demonstrated early in disease. This inflammatory stage, which is reversible and has even been found in children, may progress into fully developed atherosclerotic lesions, displaying all the classical pathohistological and functional consequences, if additional risk factors such as high blood cholesterol levels, smoking and obesity, are present.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteriosclerosis / immunology*
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Chaperonin 60 / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology
  • Humans
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Chaperonin 60