Gamma interferon: a central mediator in atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the vasculature with lesions developing in the arterial wall, frequently in the coronary and carotid arteries. The interaction between macrophages and lymphocytes within the atherosclerotic lesion microenvironment exemplifies a site where both innate and adaptive immunity contribute towards disease progression. As gamma interferon (IFN-γ), the classic macrophage activating factor, has been localized to atherosclerotic lesions, this review will focus on its contribution to plaque pathology and will finally consider how current therapies, as exemplified by HMG CoA reductase inhibitors or statins, may impact this process beyond lipid lowering, in part by inhibiting IFN-γ dependent processes. IFN-γ sources within the atheroma as well as receptors, signaling pathways and its effects on macrophages as well as on vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells will be considered. Therapeutic interventions targeting molecular events associated with IFN-γ signaling offer novel approaches to the treatment of atherosclerosis.
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