Cytokines in atherosclerosis: pathogenic and regulatory pathways.Physiol Rev. 2006 Apr; 86(2):515-81.PR
Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease of the arterial wall where both innate and adaptive immunoinflammatory mechanisms are involved. Inflammation is central at all stages of atherosclerosis. It is implicated in the formation of early fatty streaks, when the endothelium is activated and expresses chemokines and adhesion molecules leading to monocyte/lymphocyte recruitment and infiltration into the subendothelium. It also acts at the onset of adverse clinical vascular events, when activated cells within the plaque secrete matrix proteases that degrade extracellular matrix proteins and weaken the fibrous cap, leading to rupture and thrombus formation. Cells involved in the atherosclerotic process secrete and are activated by soluble factors, known as cytokines. Important recent advances in the comprehension of the mechanisms of atherosclerosis provided evidence that the immunoinflammatory response in atherosclerosis is modulated by regulatory pathways, in which the two anti-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor-beta play a critical role. The purpose of this review is to bring together the current information concerning the role of cytokines in the development, progression, and complications of atherosclerosis. Specific emphasis is placed on the contribution of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines to pathogenic (innate and adaptive) and regulatory immunity in the context of atherosclerosis. Based on our current knowledge of the role of cytokines in atherosclerosis, we propose some novel therapeutic strategies to combat this disease. In addition, we discuss the potential of circulating cytokine levels as biomarkers of coronary artery disease.