Atherosclerosis is now recognised as a chronic inflammatory disease occurring within the artery wall and ultimately responsible for myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. A crucial step in atherogenesis is the infiltration of monocytes into the subendothelial space of large arteries where they differentiate into macrophages and become functionally active. Macrophage accumulation within plaques is a hallmark of all stages of atherosclerosis, indeed recent studies have shown their presence has the potential to act as a non-invasive marker of disease activity and plaque stability. Activated macrophages are major players in all stages of lesion development. They not only accumulate lipids but also express effector molecules that are pro-inflammatory, cytotoxic and chemotactic. Furthermore, they secrete enzymes that degrade extracellular matrix leading to plaque destabilisation and increased risk of rupture. However, macrophages are heterogeneous and when appropriately activated they have the potential to drive tissue remodelling and ultimately vascular repair. Pharmacological modulation of macrophage activities therefore represents an important strategy for the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis and other inflammatory diseases. The aim of this review is to give a brief overview of our current understanding of macrophage activation, distribution and function within inflamed tissue. This will provide the basis for highlighting already available and future methods to exploit specifically activated macrophages as diagnostic and therapeutic targets for atherosclerosis.
Keywords: Macrophages, atherosclerosis, inflammation, classical activation, alternative activation, imaging, plaque stability
Circulating Aminopeptidase Activities in Men and Women with Essential Hypertension
Current Medicinal Chemistry Recent Advances in Polymer-based Wound Dressings for the Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcer: An Overview of State-of-the-art
Current Drug Targets Development of Tissue Engineered Vascular Grafts
Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Insights into the Relationship Between Hypertension and Albuminuria
Current Hypertension Reviews Relevance of Endothelial-Haemostatic Dysfunction in Cigarette Smoking
Current Medicinal Chemistry Current Management of Peripheral Vascular Disease: Where is the Evidence?
Cardiovascular & Hematological Agents in Medicinal Chemistry Platelet Glycoprotein IIb / IIIa Inhibition and its Clinical Use
Current Medicinal Chemistry - Cardiovascular & Hematological Agents The Inflammation Paradigm and Coronary Artery Disease: What Celsus, Virchow and Gene Knock Outs Have Taught Us
Cardiovascular & Hematological Disorders-Drug Targets A Role for Endothelin-1 in Peripheral Vascular Disease
Current Vascular Pharmacology Diabetic Heart and the Cardiovascular Surgeon
Cardiovascular & Hematological Disorders-Drug Targets Therapeutic Approaches in Vascular Repair Induced by Adult Bone Marrow Cells and Circulating Progenitor Endothelial Cells
Current Pharmaceutical Design Anti-Platelet Therapy and Aspirin Resistance – Clinically and Chemically Relevant?
Current Medicinal Chemistry HIF Prolyl 4-Hydroxylases and their Potential as Drug Targets
Current Pharmaceutical Design Humoral Immunity in Heart Failure
Cardiovascular & Hematological Disorders-Drug Targets The Role of Angiotensin Type 1 Receptor in Inflammation and Endothelial Dysfunction
Recent Patents on Cardiovascular Drug Discovery (Discontinued) Interactions Between the Sympathetic Nervous System and Angiotensin System in Renovascular Hypertension
Current Hypertension Reviews Prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis with flaxseed -derived compound secoisolariciresinol diglucoside
Current Pharmaceutical Design Therapeutic Interventions for Advanced Glycation-End Products and its Receptor- Mediated Cardiovascular Disease
Current Pharmaceutical Design Development of Scaffolds for Vascular Tissue Engineering: Biomaterial Mediated Neovascularization
Current Stem Cell Research & Therapy Lifestyle Changes and Pharmacological Risk Factor Modification for Effective Vascular Disease Prevention
Vascular Disease Prevention