Atherosclerosis: The interplay between lipids and immune cells

Frank Schaftenaar, Vanessa Frodermann, Johan Kuiper, Esther Lutgens

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of review: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality worldwide. The underlying cause of the majority of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis. In the past, atherosclerosis was considered to be the result of passive lipid accumulation in the vessel wall. However, today's picture of the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis is much more complex, with a key role for immune cells and inflammation in conjunction with hyperlipidemia, especially elevated (modified) LDL levels. Knowledge on immune cells and immune responses in atherosclerosis has progressed tremendously over the past decades, and the same is true for the role of lipid metabolism and the different lipid components. However, it is largely unknown how lipids and the immune system interact. In this review, we will describe the effect of lipids on immune cell development and function, and the effects of immune cells on lipid metabolism. Recent findings: Recently, novel data have emerged that show that immune cells are affected, and behave differently in a hyperlipidemic environment. Moreover, immune cells have reported to be able to affect lipid metabolism. Summary: In this review, we will summarize the latest findings on the interactions between lipids and the immune system, and we will discuss the potential consequences of these novel insights for future therapies for atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-215
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent opinion in lipidology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • atherosclerosis
  • immune system
  • lipids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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