Translational Mini-Review Series on Immunology of Vascular Disease: Inflammation, infections and Toll-like receptors in cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular Research Unit, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.
Clinical & Experimental Immunology (Impact Factor: 3.28). 04/2009; 156(3):386-94. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2009.03886.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Cardiovascular disease, in which atherosclerosis is the major underlying cause, is currently the largest cause of death in the world. Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease characterized by the formation of arterial lesions over a period of several decades at sites of endothelial cell dysfunction. These lesions are composed of endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells, monocytes/macrophages and T lymphocytes (CD4(+)). As the lesions progress some can become unstable and prone to disruption, resulting in thrombus formation and possibly a myocardial infarction or stroke depending upon the location. Although the exact triggers for plaque disruption remain unknown, much recent evidence has shown a link between the incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke and a recent respiratory tract infection. Interestingly, many reports have also shown a link between a family of pattern recognition receptors, the Toll-like receptors, and the progression of atherosclerosis, suggesting that infections may play a role in both the progression of atherosclerosis and in inducing the more severe complications associated with the disease.

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