Chapter

The Vascular Endothelium II

Volume 176/II of the series Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology pp 285-306

Vascular Endothelium and Atherosclerosis

  • P. LibbyAffiliated withDivision of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School
  • , M. AikawaAffiliated withDivision of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School
  • , M. K. JainAffiliated withDivision of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School

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Abstract

Atherosclerosis depends critically on altered behavior of the intrinsic cells of the artery wall, the endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells, and inflammatory leukocytes that join them in the arterial intima during the atherogenic process. The homeostatic properties of the normal endothelium contribute importantly to maintenance of aspects of arterial health including the appropriate regulation of blood flow, a basal anti-inflammatory state, promotion of fibrinolysis while opposing blood coagulation, and control of the balance of cellular proliferation and death. Alterations in these endothelial homeostatic mechanisms contribute critically to atherogenesis, the progression of this disease, and ist complications. Recent advances have highlighted novel molecular mechanisms that regulate the atheroprotective functions of normal endothelial cells that go awry during atherogenesis. Therapeutic strategies that alter the course of atherosclerosis may act by combating endothelial dysfunction.

Keywords

Immunity Inflammation Leukocytes Thrombosis