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Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2006 Apr;31(4):386-93. Epub 2005 Dec 15.

Inflammation and atherosclerosis.

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  • 1Second Department of Propedeutic Surgery, Laiko Hospital, Athens University Medical School, 85 G. Zografou Str., 15772 Athens, Greece.



The aim of this article is to discuss the role of inflammation in atherosclerosis.


An initial chemical, mechanical or immunological insult induces endothelial dysfunction. This triggers a cascade of inflammatory reactions, in which monocytes, macrophages, T lymphocytes and vascular smooth muscle cells participate. Leukocyte adhesion molecules, cytokines, growth factors and metalloproteinases participate in all stages of atherogenesis. Almost all of the traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis are associated with and participate in the inflammatory process. Many infectious agents, mainly Chlamydia pneumoniae, have been proposed as potential triggers of the cascade. The immune system has been implicated in plaque formation, through the activation of cellular and humoral immunity against innate or microbial heat shock protein 60. Methods of detection of systemic or local plaque inflammation have been developed and research is being conducted on the potential use of anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drugs in atherosclerosis.

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