Sports Medicine

, Volume 48, Issue 12, pp 2725–2741 | Cite as

Oxidative Stress and Inflammation, Key Targets of Atherosclerotic Plaque Progression and Vulnerability: Potential Impact of Physical Activity

  • Pauline Mury
  • Erica N. Chirico
  • Mathilde Mura
  • Antoine Millon
  • Emmanuelle Canet-Soulas
  • Vincent PialouxEmail author
Review Article


Atherosclerosis, a complex cardiovascular disease, is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Oxidative stress and inflammation are both involved in the development of atherosclerotic plaque as they increase the biological processes associated with this pathology, such as endothelial dysfunction and macrophage recruitment and adhesion. Atherosclerotic plaque rupture leading to major ischemic events is the result of vulnerable plaque progression, which is a result of the detrimental effect of oxidative stress and inflammation on risk factors for atherosclerotic plaque rupture, such as intraplaque hemorrhage, neovascularization, and fibrous cap thickness. Thus, both are key targets for primary and secondary interventions. It is well recognized that chronic physical activity attenuates oxidative stress in healthy subjects via the improvement of antioxidant enzyme capacities and inflammation via the enhancement of anti-inflammatory molecules. Moreover, it was recently shown that chronic physical activity could decrease oxidative stress and inflammation in atherosclerotic patients. The aim of this review is to summarize the role of oxidative stress and inflammation in atherosclerosis and the results of therapeutic interventions targeting them in both preclinical and clinical studies. The effects of chronic physical activity on these two key processes are then reviewed in vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques in both coronary and carotid arteries.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to conduct this study or prepare this article.

Author contributions

PM, ENC, ECS, and VP participated in the design of the study; PM, ENC and MM participated in the literature survey; PM and ENC contributed to the analysis and wrote the manuscript; PM, ENC, MM, AM, ECS, and VP edited the manuscript.

Conflicts of interest

Pauline Mury, Erica N. Chirico, Mathilde Mura, Antoine Millon, Emmanuelle Canet-Soulas, and Vincent Pialoux have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pauline Mury
    • 1
    • 2
  • Erica N. Chirico
    • 3
  • Mathilde Mura
    • 1
    • 2
  • Antoine Millon
    • 4
    • 5
  • Emmanuelle Canet-Soulas
    • 4
  • Vincent Pialoux
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Team Vascular Biology and Red Blood Cell, Interuniversity Laboratory of Human Movement BiologyUniversity Claude Bernard Lyon 1, University of LyonLyonFrance
  2. 2.Laboratory of Excellence GR-ExParisFrance
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical SciencesCooper Medical School of Rowan UniversityCamdenUSA
  4. 4.University of Lyon, University Claude Bernard Lyon 1, CarMeN Laboratory, INSERM U1060BronFrance
  5. 5.Department of Vascular SurgeryEdouard Herriot HospitalLyonFrance
  6. 6.Institut Universitaire de FranceParisFrance

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