Mast Cells as Effectors in Atherosclerosis
The mast cell is a potent immune cell known for its functions in host defense responses and diseases, such as asthma and allergies. In the past years, accumulating evidence established the contribution of the mast cell to cardiovascular diseases as well, in particular, by its effects on atherosclerotic plaque progression and destabilization. Through its release not only of mediators, such as the mast cell–specific proteases chymase and tryptase, but also of growth factors, histamine, and chemokines, activated mast cells can have detrimental effects on its immediate surroundings in the vessel wall. This results in matrix degradation, apoptosis, and enhanced recruitment of inflammatory cells, thereby actively contributing to cardiovascular diseases. In this review, we will discuss the current knowledge on mast cell function in cardiovascular diseases and speculate on potential novel therapeutic strategies to prevent acute cardiovascular syndromes via targeting of mast cells.
- Received May 7, 2014.
- Accepted July 25, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.