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Title: Cholesterol, inflammasomes, and atherogenesis

item ORDOVAS-MONTANES, JOSE M. - Harvard Medical School
item ORDOVAS, JOSE M. - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University

Submitted to: Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2011
Publication Date: 2/1/2012
Citation: Ordovas-Montanes, J., Ordovas, J. 2012. Cholesterol, inflammasomes, and atherogenesis. Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports. 6(1):45-52.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Plasma cholesterol levels have been strongly associated with atherogenesis, underscoring the role of lipid metabolism in defining cardiovascular disease risk. However, atherosclerotic plaque is highly dynamic and contains elements of both the innate and adaptive immune system that respond to the aberrant accumulation of lipids in the subendothelial space. Previous research has focused on defining how proinflammatory cytokines synthesized by macrophages, such as interleukin-1 Beta (IL-1 Beta), modulate the progression of atherosclerosis, supporting the notion that chronic inflammation accelerates atherogenesis. More recently, emphasis has been placed on the elucidation of the mechanisms that contribute to pro-IL-1 Beta production and finally its processing via multiprotein complexes termed the inflammasomes, a family of cytosolic multiprotein complexes that serve as sensors of either pathogen invasion or cellular stress (ie, cholesterol crystals) and work via triggering caspase-1-mediated processing of pro-IL-1 Beta to IL-1 Beta. Based on this link between cholesterol metabolism, NLRP3 inflammasome activation, and IL-1 Beta release, it is important to re-evaluate how the atherogenic environment stimulates immune cells to produce IL-1 Beta.