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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 9582430, 13 pages
Review Article

Macrophages and Their Role in Atherosclerosis: Pathophysiology and Transcriptome Analysis

1Institute of General Pathology and Pathophysiology, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow 125315, Russia
2Faculty of Medicine, School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Kensington, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
3School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Campbelltown, NSW 2560, Australia
4Department of Development and Regeneration, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
5Department of Molecular Genetic Diagnostics and Cell Biology, Institute of Pediatrics, Research Center for Children’s Health, Moscow 119991, Russia
6Institute for Atherosclerosis, Skolkovo Innovation Center, Moscow 143025, Russia
7Department of Biophysics, Biological Faculty, Moscow State University, Moscow 119991, Russia

Received 29 March 2016; Revised 29 May 2016; Accepted 22 June 2016

Academic Editor: Tomasz Guzik

Copyright © 2016 Yuri V. Bobryshev et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Atherosclerosis can be regarded as a chronic inflammatory state, in which macrophages play different and important roles. Phagocytic proinflammatory cells populate growing atherosclerotic lesions, where they actively participate in cholesterol accumulation. Moreover, macrophages promote formation of complicated and unstable plaques by maintaining proinflammatory microenvironment. At the same time, anti-inflammatory macrophages contribute to tissue repair and remodelling and plaque stabilization. Macrophages therefore represent attractive targets for development of antiatherosclerotic therapy, which can aim to reduce monocyte recruitment to the lesion site, inhibit proinflammatory macrophages, or stimulate anti-inflammatory responses and cholesterol efflux. More studies are needed, however, to create a comprehensive classification of different macrophage phenotypes and to define their roles in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. In this review, we provide an overview of the current knowledge on macrophage diversity, activation, and plasticity in atherosclerosis and describe macrophage-based cellular tests for evaluation of potential antiatherosclerotic substances.