Atherosclerosis is the pathological process that underlies the development of cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of mortality. Atherosclerotic plaque formation is driven by the recruitment of inflammatory monocytes into the artery wall, their differentiation into macrophages and the subsequent transformation of macrophages into cholesterol-laden foam cells. Models of hypercholesterolaemia such as the ApoE (apolipoprotein E)−/− mouse and the application of transgenic technologies have allowed us to undertake a thorough dissection of the cellular and molecular biology of the atherosclerotic disease process. Murine models have emphasized the central role of inflammation in atherogenesis and have been instrumental in the identification of adhesion molecules that support monocyte recruitment, scavenger receptors that facilitate cholesterol uptake by macrophages and other macrophage activation receptors. The study of mice deficient in multiple members of the chemokine family, and their receptors, has shown that chemokines play a critical role in promoting atherosclerotic plaque formation. In the present review, we will discuss novel therapeutic avenues for the treatment of cardiovascular disease that derive directly from our current understanding of atherogenesis gained in experimental animal models.

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