Exploring immune checkpoints as potential therapeutic targets in atherosclerosis

Pascal J.H. Kusters, Esther Lutgens, Tom T.P. Seijkens

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In the past decades, the inflammatory nature of atherosclerosis has been well-recognized and despite the development of therapeutic strategies targeted at its classical risk factors such as dyslipidemia and hypertension, atherosclerosis remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Additional strategies targeting the chronic inflammatory pathways underlying the development of atherosclerosis are therefore required. Interactions between different immune cells result in the secretion of inflammatory mediators, such as cytokines and chemokines, and fuel atherogenesis. Immune checkpoint proteins have a critical role in facilitating immune cell interactions and play an essential role in the development of atherosclerosis. Although the therapeutic potential of these molecules is well-recognized in clinical oncology, the use of immune checkpoint modulators in atherosclerosis is still limited to experimental models. Here, we review recent insights on the role of immune checkpoint proteins in atherosclerosis. Additionally, we explore the therapeutic potential and challenges of immune checkpoint modulating strategies in cardiovascular medicine and we discuss novel therapeutic approaches to target these proteins in atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-377
Number of pages10
JournalCardiovascular research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Co-stimulatory molecules
  • Immune checkpoints
  • Inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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