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Getting to the Heart of the Matter: The role of Regulatory T-cells (Tregs) in Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Atherosclerosis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number2795
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Accepted/In press14 Nov 2019
Published28 Nov 2019


King's Authors


Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of mortality worldwide. Atherosclerosis is directly associated with CVD and is characterized by slow progressing inflammation which results in the deposition and accumulation of lipids beneath the endothelial layer in conductance and resistance arteries. Both chronic inflammation and disease progression have been associated with several risk factors, including but not limited to smoking, obesity, diabetes, genetic predisposition, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension. Currently, despite increasing incidence and significant expense on the healthcare system in both western and developing countries, there is no curative therapy for atherosclerosis. Instead patients rely on surgical intervention to avoid or revert vessel occlusion, and pharmacological management of the aforementioned risk factors. However, neither of these approaches completely resolve the underlying inflammatory environment which perpetuates the disease, nor do they result in plaque regression. As such, immunomodulation could provide a novel therapeutic option for atherosclerosis; shifting the balance from proatherogenic to athero-protective. Indeed, regulatory T-cells (Tregs), which constitute 5-10% of all CD4 + T lymphocytes in the peripheral blood, have been shown to be athero-protective and could function as new targets in both CVD and atherosclerosis. This review aims to give a comprehensive overview about the roles of Tregs in CVD, focusing on atherosclerosis.

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