Macrophages and dendritic cells: the usual suspects in atherogenesis.
Kassiteridi C., Monaco C.
Atherosclerosis, the major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the leading cause of death worldwide, is a multifactorial chronic inflammatory disease, which, clinically manifests from early lipid-rich lesions to plaque rupture and/or thrombosis in the arterial wall. The myeloid cell compartment, including macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs), is long known to contribute to the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. However their complex phenotypic heterogeneity hampers our full understanding of their role. Here, we review the biological and functional versatility of the myeloid cells in atherosclerosis. Several distinct subsets of macrophages and myeloid cells have been identified in atherosclerotic plaques, including subsets that are specific to atherosclerosis itself. Our ability to target them therapeutically is still limited. The challenge for the future will be the definition of treatments that target specific myeloid subsets to prevent the activation of pro-atherogenic myeloid cell subsets while preserving the anti-atherogenic and repairable function of myeloid cells.