Functional diversity of macrophages in vascular biology and disease.
Park I., Kassiteridi C., Monaco C.
Atherosclerosis is a multifactorial chronic inflammatory disease and is largely responsible for cardiovascular disease, the most common cause of global mortality. The hallmark of atherogenesis is immune activation following lipid accumulation in the arterial wall. In particular, macrophages play a non-redundant role in both the progression and regression of inflammation in the atherosclerotic lesion. Macrophages are remarkably heterogeneous phagocytes that perform versatile functions in health and disease. Their functional diversity in vascular biology is only partially mapped. Targeting macrophages is often highlighted as a therapeutic approach for cancer, metabolic and inflammatory diseases. Future strategies for therapeutic intervention in atherosclerosis may benefit from attempts to reduce local proliferation of pro-inflammatory macrophage subsets or enhance resolution of inflammation. Thus, characterisation of macrophage subsets during atherosclerosis would empower clinical interventions. Therefore, it would be of fundamental importance to understand how pathological factors modulate macrophage activity in order to exploit their use in the treatment of atherosclerosis and other diseases.