The role of monocytes in atherosclerotic coronary artery disease

University of Birmingham Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, City Hospital, Birmingham, B18 7QH, United Kingdom.
Annals of Medicine (Impact Factor: 4.73). 09/2010; 42(6):394-403. DOI: 10.3109/07853890.2010.497767

ABSTRACT Inflammation plays a key role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. The more we discover about the molecular pathways involved in atherosclerosis, the more we perceive the importance of monocytes in this process. Circulating monocytes are components of innate immunity, and many pro-inflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules facilitate their adhesion and migration to the vascular endothelial wall. In addition to the accumulation of lipids and formation of atherogenic 'foam' cells, monocytes may promote atherosclerotic plaque growth by production of inflammatory cytokines, matrix metalloproteinases, and reactive oxidative species. However, the contribution of monocytes to atherogenesis is not only limited to tissue destruction. Monocyte subsets are also involved in intraplaque angiogenesis and tissue reparative processes. The aim of this overview is to discuss the mechanisms of monocyte activation, the pivotal role and importance of activated monocytes in atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, their implication in the development of acute coronary events, and their potential in cardiovascular reparative processes such angiogenesis.

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