Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) still remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. It is now established that inflammation plays a crucial role in atherosclerosis and atherothrombosis, and thus, it is closely linked to cardiovascular disease.
Objective: The aim of the present review is to summarize and critically appraise the most relevant evidence regarding the potential use of inflammatory markers in the field of CVD.
Method: We conducted a comprehensive research of the relevant literature, searching MEDLINE from its inception until November 2018, primarily for meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials and observational studies.
Results: Established markers of inflammation, mainly C-reactive protein, have yielded significant results both for primary and secondary prevention of CVD. Newer markers, such as lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2, lectin-like oxidized low-density lipoprotein receptor-1, cytokines, myeloperoxidase, cell adhesion molecules, matrix metalloproteinases, and the CD40/CD40 ligand system, have been largely evaluated in human studies, enrolling both individuals from the general population and patients with established CVD. Some markers have yielded conflicting results; however, other are now recognized not only as promising biomarkers of CVD, but also as potential therapeutic targets, establishing the role of anti-inflammatory and pleiotropic drugs in CVD.
Conclusion: There is significant evidence regarding the role of consolidated and novel inflammatory markers in the field of diagnosis and prognosis of CVD. However, multimarker model assessment, validation of cut-off values and cost-effectiveness analyses are required, in order for those markers to be integrated into daily clinical practice.