Background: Atherosclerosis, a chronic inflammatory disease of
the blood vessel wall, is the most common cause of cardiovascular pathologies.
Hyaluronan, the major polysaccharide involved in this process, plays a
pivotal role acting as a modulator of all inflammatory stages, affecting the behavior
of both endothelial and smooth muscle cells.
Objective: The inflammatory condition is the main reason of the increased
deposition of extracellular matrix, that in turn, traps lipoproteins and inflammatory/growth factors from the circulation within the vessel wall and thicken
the arterial wall. Therefore, this chronic condition that continuously affects
the arterial walls in a specific area causes a severe remodeling of the tissue architecture
and a drastic change in the resident cell behavior.
Methods: Because of the great complexity of the extracellular matrix in the arterial wall, we investigate
the modification in the different layers of the vessels with a particular attention to
hyaluronan and proteoglycans and to the events that affects their normal turnover.
Results: Hyaluronan, the major polysaccharide involved in this process, plays a pivotal role
acting as a modulator of all inflammatory stages, affecting the behavior of both endothelial and
smooth muscle cells. Moreover, glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans had been shown to
change during the lesion progression, and to possess the chemical features essential for lipid retention,
immune system activation, smooth cells proliferation and macrophages recruitment.
Conclusion: The ECM characteristics should be investigated in order to understand their prevention
potentials as well as their negative impact on the onset of the disease.