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Curr Mol Med. 2006 Aug;6(5):439-56.

Cell biology and lipoproteins in atherosclerosis.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Research Center, CSIC- ICCC, Hospital de la Santa CreuISant Pau, Barcelona, Spain.


Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory process, triggered by the presence of lipids in the vascular wall, and encompasses a complex interaction among inflammatory cells, vascular elements, and lipoproteins through expression of several adhesion molecules and cytokines. Subendothelial retention of lipoproteins is the key initiating event in atherosclerosis, provoking a cascade of events to pathogenic response. High levels of plasma lipids, particularly low-density (LDL) and very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) are among the pathophysiologic stimuli that induce endothelial dysfunction. Endothelial cells regulate coagulation, thrombosis and the fibrinolytic system; the endothelium modulates the activity of smooth muscle cells (vascular tone/proliferation) and controls the traffic of macromolecules and inflammatory cells to the vessel wall. Furthermore, LDLs have been implicated in the induction of changes in permeability, cell adhesion and secretion of vasoactive molecules (nitric oxide [NO]), while VLDLs seem to modulate the fibrinolytic system [tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1)]. In this review, we will focus on the pathophysiologic functions of lipoproteins in the vascular wall.

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