The role of red blood cells in the progression and instability of atherosclerotic plaque.
ABSTRACT This review attempts to present a focused summary of selected areas of the rapidly growing knowledge regarding the red blood cells role in atherosclerotic plaque progression and instability. A summary of the characteristics of the erythrocyte membranes is provided, followed by a brief review of the in vitro and in vivo work that has helped clarify their role in atherosclerosis. Mechanisms by which erythrocytes enter the atherosclerotic plaque and contribute to its progression and instability are presented. Finally, some elements that may be clinically important regarding erythrocytes in coronary artery disease are discussed.