Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Atheroscler Thromb. 1994;1 Suppl 1:S10-3.

Local expression of inflammatory cytokines in human atherosclerotic plaques.

Author information

  • 1Dept. Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Human atherosclerotic plaques are heterogeneous tissues containing a number of different cell types, including macrophages, smooth muscle, endothelial and other undefined mesenchymal-appearing cells. Significant numbers of macrophages are found in human atherosclerotic plaques and have been postulated to be a major source of growth factor production during atherogenesis. In vitro evidence suggested that macrophages synthesize PDGF and might therefore contribute to the growth of the vessel wall in atherosclerosis. However, examination of PDGF synthesis in human atheroma by in situ hybridization revealed that while smooth muscle, mesenchymal, and endothelial cells synthesize this growth factor macrophages did not. Our inability to detect PDGF mRNA in macrophages was not due to any problems with hybridization to this cell type. In situ hybridization studies on human atherosclerotic plaques have demonstrated that plaque macrophages contain many different mRNAs other than PDGF including tissue factor, factor XIII, apoprotein E, transforming growth factor beta, and tumor necrosis factor. Recent studies have indicated that macrophages may be a major source as well of another group of inflammatory cytokines which are members of the RANTES/SIS cytokine family. In situ hybridization studies on human carotid endarterectomy specimens using probes specific for the inflammatory cytokines RANTES, LD78, HIMAP, and MCP-1 revealed numerous cells containing the mRNAs encoding for these proteins (5%, 13%, 8%, and 16% of plaque cells respectively). This is in contrast to generally low level expression found in normal human arteries (< 1% of normal medial cells contain these mRNAs). Cells expressing these cytokines were often found associated with inflammatory zones in human atherosclerotic plaques. Serial section immunohistochemistry suggests that macrophages and/or T cells may synthesize these proteins. In addition to localization to macrophages MCP-1 expression was also detected in smooth muscle cells and mesenchymal-appearing cells with many of the morphological characteristics of cells previously seen to express PDGF. In vitro evidence suggests that these proteins may be chemotactic to monocytes and lymphocytes. The finding of increased expression of these mRNAs in human atheroma suggests they may play a role in monocyte trafficking into the atherosclerotic plaque.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk