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A Journal on Heart and Vascular Diseases

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Angiology and Vascular Pathology
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Minerva Cardioangiologica 2002 October;50(5):475-86

language: Italian

Inflammation, atherosclerosis and acute coronary syndromes

Biasucci L. M., Santamaria M., Liuzzo G.


Inflammatory mechanisms play a pivotal role in the atherosclerotic process. At the base of atherogenesis there are complex interactions between macrophages, T lymphocytes and smooth muscle cells. A growing body of experimental evidences suggest that inflammation is involved in the pathogenesis of acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and influences their clinical evolution. Infact, in patients with ACS, coronary atherosclerotic plaques are characterized by an abundant inflammatory infiltrate. Moreover, in these patients systemic signs of inflammatory reaction can be observed: activated circulating inflammatory cells (neutrophil, monocytes and lymphocytes) and increased concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin (IL)-1 and 6, and of acute phase reactants, in particular C-reactive protein (CRP). Recent data demonstrate that CRP is a strong independent predictor of adverse cardiac events and death in patients with ACS, but also in patients with stable ischemic heart disease and in apparently healthy men and women. Furthermore, CRP is an important prognostic index, for early and late outcome, in patients undergoing percutaneous coronary interventions, and may be useful in chosing the therapeutic management of the patient. Altough the causes of inflammation in patients with ACS are not yet clear, this new line of research may open the way to a different clinical approach for these patients.

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