Cytokines as therapeutic targets for cardio- and cerebrovascular diseases

Luca Liberale, Stefano Ministrini, Federico Carbone, Giovanni G. Camici, Fabrizio Montecucco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite major advances in prevention and treatment, cardiac and cerebral atherothrombotic complications still account for substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide. In this context, inflammation is involved in the chronic process leading atherosclerotic plaque formation and its complications, as well as in the maladaptive response to acute ischemic events. For this reason, modulation of inflammation is nowadays seen as a promising therapeutic strategy to counteract the burden of cardio- and cerebrovascular disease. Being produced and recognized by both inflammatory and vascular cells, the complex network of cytokines holds key functions in the crosstalk of these two systems and orchestrates the progression of atherothrombosis. By binding to membrane receptors, these soluble mediators trigger specific intracellular signaling pathways eventually leading to the activation of transcription factors and a deep modulation of cell function. Both stimulatory and inhibitory cytokines have been described and progressively reported as markers of disease or interesting therapeutic targets in the cardiovascular field. Nevertheless, cytokine inhibition is burdened by harmful side effects that will most likely prevent its chronic use in favor of acute administrations in well-selected subjects at high risk. Here, we summarize the current state of knowledge regarding the modulatory role of cytokines on atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Then, we discuss evidence from clinical trials specifically targeting cytokines and the potential implication of these advances into daily clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
JournalBasic Research in Cardiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Cytokines
  • IL-1
  • IL-6
  • Interleukins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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