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.
Keywords: Adaptive immunity, atherosclerosis, dendritic cells, inflammation, innate immunity, macrophages, myeloid.
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