Extensive research has been carried out to decipher the function of the adaptive immune response in atherosclerosis, with the expectation that it will pave the road for the design of immunomodulatory therapies that will prevent or reverse the progression of the disease.
All this work has led to the concept that some T- and B-cell subsets are proatherogenic, whereas others are atheroprotective. In addition to the immune response occurring in the spleen and lymph nodes, it has been shown that lymphoid neo-genesis takes place in the adventitia of atherosclerotic vessels, leading to the formation of tertiary lymphoid organs where an adaptive immune response can be mounted. Whereas the mechanisms orchestrating the formation of these organs are becoming better understood, their impact on atherosclerosis progression remains unclear.
Several potential therapeutic strategies against atherosclerosis, such as protective vaccination against atherosclerosis antigens or inhibiting the activation of proatherogenic B cells, have been proposed based on our improving knowledge of the role of the immune system in atherosclerosis. These strategies have shown success in preclinical studies, giving hope that they will lead to clinical applications.
Source: Mol Med. 2015 Oct 27;21 Suppl 1:S13-8. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2015.00027.