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      Inflammation and Microcalcification: A Never-Ending Vicious Cycle in Atherosclerosis?


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          Inflammatory cells and cytokines are known for long to worsen the development of atherosclerotic plaques in mice, and intense efforts are today devoted to develop anti-inflammatory therapeutic strategies to slow down plaque development. Increasing data indicate that plaque inflammation is intimately associated with microcalcifications, which exert harmful effects eventually culminating with plaque rupture. In this review article, we will first introduce microcalcification location, detection, and effects in atherosclerotic plaques. Then, we will present the numerous data suggesting that inflammatory cells and molecules are responsible for the formation of microcalcifications and the articles showing that microcalcifications stimulate macrophages and smooth muscle cells to produce more pro-inflammatory cytokines. Finally, we will discuss the possibility that microcalcifications might stimulate smooth muscle cells to produce larger and more stable calcifications to stabilize plaques, to exit the vicious cycle associating inflammation and microcalcification in atherosclerotic plaques.

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          Most cited references130

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          18F-fluoride positron emission tomography for identification of ruptured and high-risk coronary atherosclerotic plaques: a prospective clinical trial.

          The use of non-invasive imaging to identify ruptured or high-risk coronary atherosclerotic plaques would represent a major clinical advance for prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease. We used combined PET and CT to identify ruptured and high-risk atherosclerotic plaques using the radioactive tracers (18)F-sodium fluoride ((18)F-NaF) and (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose ((18)F-FDG). In this prospective clinical trial, patients with myocardial infarction (n=40) and stable angina (n=40) underwent (18)F-NaF and (18)F-FDG PET-CT, and invasive coronary angiography. (18)F-NaF uptake was compared with histology in carotid endarterectomy specimens from patients with symptomatic carotid disease, and with intravascular ultrasound in patients with stable angina. The primary endpoint was the comparison of (18)F-fluoride tissue-to-background ratios of culprit and non-culprit coronary plaques of patients with acute myocardial infarction. In 37 (93%) patients with myocardial infarction, the highest coronary (18)F-NaF uptake was seen in the culprit plaque (median maximum tissue-to-background ratio: culprit 1·66 [IQR 1·40-2·25] vs highest non-culprit 1·24 [1·06-1·38], p<0·0001). By contrast, coronary (18)F-FDG uptake was commonly obscured by myocardial uptake and where discernible, there were no differences between culprit and non-culprit plaques (1·71 [1·40-2·13] vs 1·58 [1·28-2·01], p=0·34). Marked (18)F-NaF uptake occurred at the site of all carotid plaque ruptures and was associated with histological evidence of active calcification, macrophage infiltration, apoptosis, and necrosis. 18 (45%) patients with stable angina had plaques with focal (18)F-NaF uptake (maximum tissue-to-background ratio 1·90 [IQR 1·61-2·17]) that were associated with more high-risk features on intravascular ultrasound than those without uptake: positive remodelling (remodelling index 1·12 [1·09-1·19] vs 1·01 [0·94-1·06]; p=0·0004), microcalcification (73% vs 21%, p=0·002), and necrotic core (25% [21-29] vs 18% [14-22], p=0·001). (18)F-NaF PET-CT is the first non-invasive imaging method to identify and localise ruptured and high-risk coronary plaque. Future studies are needed to establish whether this method can improve the management and treatment of patients with coronary artery disease. Chief Scientist Office Scotland and British Heart Foundation. Copyright © 2014 Joshi et al. Open Access article distributed under the terms of CC BY. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Modulation of the Inflammatory Response and Bone Healing

            The optimal treatment for complex fractures and large bone defects is an important unsolved issue in orthopedics and related specialties. Approximately 5–10% of fractures fail to heal and develop non-unions. Bone healing can be characterized by three partially overlapping phases: the inflammatory phase, the repair phase, and the remodeling phase. Eventual healing is highly dependent on the initial inflammatory phase, which is affected by both the local and systemic responses to the injurious stimulus. Furthermore, immune cells and mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) participate in critical inter-cellular communication or crosstalk to modulate bone healing. Deficiencies in this inter-cellular exchange, inhibition of the natural processes of acute inflammation, and its resolution, or chronic inflammation due to a persistent adverse stimulus can lead to impaired fracture healing. Thus, an initial and optimal transient stage of acute inflammation is one of the key factors for successful, robust bone healing. Recent studies demonstrated the therapeutic potential of immunomodulation for bone healing by the preconditioning of MSCs to empower their immunosuppressive properties. Preconditioned MSCs (also known as “primed/ licensed/ activated” MSCs) are cultured first with pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g., TNFα and IL17A) or exposed to hypoxic conditions to mimic the inflammatory environment prior to their intended application. Another approach of immunomodulation for bone healing is the resolution of inflammation with anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL4, IL10, and IL13. In this review, we summarize the principles of inflammation and bone healing and provide an update on cellular interactions and immunomodulation for optimal bone healing.
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              Is Open Access

              M1- and M2-Type Macrophage Responses Are Predictive of Adverse Outcomes in Human Atherosclerosis

              Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease caused by endothelial injury, lipid deposition, and oxidative stress. This progressive disease can be converted into an acute clinical event by plaque rupture and thrombosis. In the context of atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of myocardial infarction and stroke, macrophages uniquely possess a dual functionality, regulating lipid accumulation and metabolism and sustaining the chronic inflammatory response, two of the most well-documented pathways associated with the pathogenesis of the disease. Macrophages are heterogeneous cell populations and it is hypothesized that, during the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, macrophages in the developing plaque can switch from a pro-inflammatory (MΦ1) to an anti-inflammatory (MΦ2) phenotype and vice versa, depending on the microenvironment. The aim of this study was to identify changes in macrophage subpopulations in the progression of human atherosclerotic disease. Established atherosclerotic plaques from symptomatic and asymptomatic patients with existing coronary artery disease undergoing carotid endarterectomy were recruited to the study. Comprehensive histological and immunohistochemical analyses were performed to quantify the cellular content and macrophage subsets of atherosclerotic lesion. In parallel, expression of MΦ1 and MΦ2 macrophage markers were analyzed by real-time PCR and Western blot analysis. Gross analysis and histological staining demonstrated that symptomatic plaques presented greater hemorrhagic activity and the internal carotid was the most diseased segment, based on the predominant prevalence of fibrotic and necrotic tissue, calcifications, and hemorrhagic events. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that both MΦ1 and MΦ2 macrophages are present in human plaques. However, MΦ2 macrophages are localized to more stable locations within the lesion. Importantly, gene and protein expression analysis of MΦ1/MΦ2 markers evidenced that MΦ1 markers and Th1-associated cytokines are highly expressed in symptomatic plaques, whereas expression of the MΦ2 markers, mannose receptor (MR), and CD163 and Th2 cytokines are inversely related with disease progression. These data increase the understanding of atherosclerosis development, identifying the cellular content of lesions during disease progression, and characterizing macrophage subpopulation within human atherosclerotic plaques.

                Author and article information

                J Vasc Res
                Journal of Vascular Research
                S. Karger AG
                May 2022
                17 January 2022
                : 59
                : 3
                : 137-150
                [_a] aICBMS UMR CNRS 5246, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Lyon, France
                [_b] bCollege of Public Health, Phoenicia University, Zahrani, Lebanon
                [_c] cPRASE and Biology Department, Faculty of Sciences-I, Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon
                Author information
                521161 J Vasc Res 2022;59:137–150
                © 2022 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                : 13 September 2021
                : 17 November 2021
                Page count
                Figures: 2, Pages: 14
                Review Article

                General medicine,Neurology,Cardiovascular Medicine,Internal medicine,Nephrology


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