Caveolae are 50-100 nm cell surface plasma membrane invaginations that are highly enriched in cholesterol and sphingolipids and are characterized by the protein marker caveolin-1. Caveolin-1 is highly expressed in terminally differentiated cells. Among these cells, endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, and macrophages have all been shown to play key roles in the development of vascular disease. Atherosclerosis and neointimal formation are two major processes that have been associated with arterial occlusion. In both cases, caveolin-1 has been shown to play an important role. However, depending on the cell type and the metabolic pathways regulated by this protein, caveolin-1 may positively or negatively influence the development of vascular disease. Both of these aspects will be discussed in this review.
Keywords: Caveolin, caveolae, atherosclerosis, transcytosis, lipoproteins, vascular disease
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