Role of polymorphonuclear neutrophils in atherosclerosis: Current state and future perspectives

Roberta Baetta, Alberto Corsini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contrary to the long-standing and widely accepted belief that polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) are of marginal relevance in atherosclerosis, evidence revealing a previously unappreciated role of PMN in the process of atherosclerosis is being accumulating. Systemic inflammation involving activated PMN is clearly associated with unstable conditions of coronary artery disease and an increased number of circulating neutrophils is a well-known risk indicator of future cardiovascular outcomes. Furthermore, PMN are activated in a number of clinical conditions associated with high risk of developing atherosclerosis and are detectable into culprit lesions of patients with coronary artery disease.At present, pharmacological interventions aimed at blocking neutrophil emigration from the blood into the arterial wall and/or inhibiting neutrophil-mediated inflammatory functions are not an option for treating atherosclerosis. Nevertheless, several lines of evidence suggest that part of the atheroprotective effects of statins as well as HDL and HDL apolipoproteins may be related to their ability to modulate neutrophilic inflammation in the arterial wall. These hypotheses are not definitely established and warrant for further study. This Review describes the evidence suggesting that PMN may have a causative role in atherogenesis and atheroprogression and discusses the potential importance of modulating neutrophilic inflammation as part of a novel, improved strategy for preventing and treating atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • Arterial injury
  • Chemokine receptor antagonists
  • Cytokines
  • Emperipolesis
  • HDL
  • Immunity
  • Inflammation
  • Leukocytes
  • Lipid mediators
  • Neutrophil
  • Statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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