Phenotypic Polarization of Macrophages in Atherosclerosis
Macrophages orchestrate the inflammatory response in inflamed tissues, and recent work indicates that these cells can alter their phenotypes and functions accordingly in response to changes in the microenvironment. Initial work in models of cardiovascular disease used immunologic markers to characterize macrophage phenotypes present in atherosclerotic plaque, and these studies have lately been extended through the use of markers that are more specific for atherosclerosis and metabolic disease. Together, these studies have led to a novel view of the function of macrophages in the development of atherosclerosis that suggests dynamic plasticity. Understanding this plasticity and the ensuing macrophage heterogeneity could lead to novel strategies of pharmacological intervention to combat chronic inflammation in metabolic diseases. Most importantly, revealing the functional characteristics of individual macrophage phenotypes will lead to a better understanding of their contribution to lesion development and plaque stability.
- Received January 17, 2013.
- Accepted February 14, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.