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Curr Opin Lipidol. 2004 Oct;15(5):523-9.

Caveolin-1 and caveolae in atherosclerosis: differential roles in fatty streak formation and neointimal hyperplasia.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology and the Albert Einstein Diabetes Research and Training Center (DRTC), and Department of Urology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, The Bronx, New York 10461, USA.



Caveolae are 50-100 nm cell surface plasma membrane invaginations observed in terminally differentiated cells. They are characterized by the presence of the protein marker caveolin-1. Caveolae and caveolin-1 are present in almost every cell type that has been implicated in the development of an atheroma. These include endothelial cells, macrophages, and smooth muscle cells. Caveolae and caveolin-1 are involved in regulating several signal transduction pathways and processes that play an important role in atherosclerosis.


Several recent studies using genetically engineered mice (Cav-1 (-/-) null animals) have now clearly demonstrated a role for caveolin-1 and caveolae in the development of atherosclerosis. In fact, they suggest a rather complex one, either proatherogenic or antiatherogenic, depending on the cell type examined. For example, in endothelial cells, caveolin-1 and caveolae may play a proatherogenic role by promoting the transcytosis of LDL-cholesterol particles from the blood to the sub-endothelial space. In contrast, in smooth muscle cells, the ability of caveolin-1 to negatively regulate cell proliferation (neointimal hyperplasia) may have an antiatherogenic effect.


Caveolin-1 and caveolae play an important role in several steps involved in the initiation of an atheroma. Development of new drugs that regulate caveolin-1 expression may be important in the prevention or treatment of atherosclerotic vascular disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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