DOI: 10.3390/cells12172152 ISSN:

T Cells in Atherosclerosis: Key Players in the Pathogenesis of Vascular Disease

Hannah Hinkley, Daniel A. Counts, Elizabeth VonCanon, Michael Lacy
  • General Medicine

Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by the accumulation of lipid-rich plaques within arterial walls. T cells play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis in which they help orchestrate immune responses and contribute to plaque development and instability. Here, we discuss the recognition of atherosclerosis-related antigens that may trigger T cell activation together with additional signaling from co-stimulatory molecules and lesional cytokines. Although few studies have indicated candidates for the antigen specificity of T cells in atherosclerosis, further research is needed. Furthermore, we describe the pro-atherogenic and atheroprotective roles of diverse subsets of T cells such as CD4+ helper, CD8+ cytotoxic, invariant natural killer, and γδ T cells. To classify and quantify T cell subsets in atherosclerosis, we summarize current methods to analyze cellular heterogeneity including single cell RNA sequencing and T cell receptor (TCR) sequencing. Further insights into T cell biology will help shed light on the immunopathology of atherosclerosis, inform potential therapeutic interventions, and pave the way for precision medicine approaches in combating cardiovascular disease.

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