Author(s): Tabas I
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Abstract Prolonged activation of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress pathway known as the unfolded protein response (UPR) can lead to cell pathology and subsequent tissue dysfunction. There is now ample evidence that the UPR is chronically activated in atherosclerotic lesional cells, particularly advanced lesional macrophages and endothelial cells. The stressors in advanced lesions that can lead to prolonged activation of the UPR include oxidative stress, oxysterols, and high levels of intracellular cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. Importantly, these arterial wall stressors may be especially prominent in the settings of obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes, all of which promote the clinical progression of atherosclerosis. In the case of macrophages, prolonged ER stress triggers apoptosis, which in turn leads to plaque necrosis if the apoptotic cells are not rapidly cleared. ER stress-induced endothelial cell apoptosis may also contribute to plaque progression. Another potentially important proatherogenic effect of prolonged ER stress is activation of inflammatory pathways in macrophages and, perhaps in response to atheroprone shear stress, endothelial cells. Although exciting work over the last decade has begun to shed light on the mechanisms and in vivo relevance of ER stress-driven atherosclerosis, much more work is needed to fully understand this area and to enable an informed approach to therapeutic translation.
This article was published in Circ Res
and referenced in Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine