Coronary atherosclerosis is the largest cause of mortality and morbidity in industrialised countries. Despite recent advances in medical therapies, the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis remain suboptimal. Atherosclerosis is considered to be a chronic inflammatory disease of the arterial wall, involving the accumulation of macrophages and excess low density lipoproteins (LDL), the formation of foam cells which create the atheromatous plaque, resulting in stenosis, aneurysm and plaque rupture leading to acute coronary events. Every step in the atherogenesis process is a potential therapeutic target for both the prevention and regression of atherosclerosis. A novel approach is the use of nanoparticles containing drugs, providing new perspectives in targeted modification of these pathways. Nanoparticles are ultrafine particles sized between 1-100 nm. By using specific methods, nanoparticles can be filled with drugs and achieve targeted drug delivery near the diseased area. In this review article we describe the basic actions of nanoparticles, and we discuss their potential applications in atherosclerosis. We also discuss their advantages and we expose the existing toxicity issues, making it clear however, that the use of nanoparticles is one of the most promising therapeutic strategies against atherosclerosis.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis, nanoparticles, folates, inflammation, drug delivery systems
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