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Clin Immunol. 2010 Jan;134(1):5-24. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2009.07.016. Epub 2009 Sep 9.

Innate immune signals in atherosclerosis.

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Center for Molecular Medicine, L8:03, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm SE-17176, Sweden.


Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease characterised by lipid retention and inflammation in the arterial intima. Innate immune mechanisms are central to atherogenesis, involving activation of pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) and induction of inflammatory processes. In a complex tissue, such as the atherosclerotic lesion, innate signals can originate from several sources and promote atherogenesis through ligation of PRRs. The receptors recognise conserved molecular patterns on pathogens and endogenous products of tissue injury and inflammation. Activation of PRRs might affect several aspects of atherosclerosis by acting on lesion resident cells. Scavenger receptors mediate antigen uptake and clearance of lipoproteins, thereby promoting foam cell formation. Signalling receptors, such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs), lead to induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines and antigen-specific immune responses. In this review we describe the innate mechanisms present in the plaque. We focus on TLRs, their cross-talk with other PRRs, and how their signalling cascades influence inflammation within the atherosclerotic lesion.

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