Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease characterized by lipid accumulation as well as vascular injury due to a massive infiltration of immune cells in the endothelial wall. Microbial and self- antigens are responsible for a persistent activation of immune and non-immune cells, thus leading to a condition of arterial chronic inflammation with plaque formation and rupture in complicated cases. In particular, the effects of bacteria, viruses and their toxic products as well as of glycated lipoproteins will be illustrated with special reference to the main inflammatory pathways triggered by a persistent antigenic load in the host. Taking into consideration this broad variety of antigens implicated in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, therapeutic approaches such as antibiotics, dietary intervention and immune therapies will be discussed.
Keywords: Advanced glycated end products, bacteria, endothelial cells, glycated proteins, heat-shock proteins, immune cells, lipopolysaccharides, toll-like receptors
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