The role of damage-and pathogen-associated molecular patterns in inflammation-mediated vulnerability of atherosclerotic plaques

Vikrant Rai, Devendra K. Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

19 Scopus citations


Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease resulting in the formation of the atherosclerotic plaque. Plaque formation starts with the inflammation in fatty streaks and progresses through atheroma, atheromatous plaque, and fibroatheroma leading to development of stable plaque. Hypercholesterolemia, dyslipidemia, and hyperglycemia are the risk factors for atherosclerosis. Inflammation, infection with viruses and bacteria, and dysregulation in the endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells leads to advanced plaque formation. Death of the cells in the intima due to inflammation results in secretion of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) such as high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE), alarmins (S100A8, S100A9, S100A12, and oxidized low-density lipoproteins), and infection with pathogens leads to secretion of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) such as lipopolysaccharides, lipoteichoic acids, and peptidoglycans. DAMPs and PAMPs further activate the inflammatory surface receptors such as TREM-1 and toll-like receptors and downstream signaling kinases and transcription factors leading to increased secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and interferon-γ and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). These mediators and cytokines along with MMPs render the plaque vulnerable for rupture leading to ischemic events. In this review, we have discussed the role of DAMPs and PAMPs in association with inflammation-mediated plaque vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1245-1253
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology (medical)

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