PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The extracellular matrix (ECM) is critical for all aspects of vascular pathobiology. In vascular disease the balance of its structural components is shifted. In atherosclerotic plaques there is in fact a dynamic battle between stabilizing and proinflammatory responses. This review explores the most recent strides that have been made to detail the active role of the ECM - and its main binding partners - in driving atherosclerotic plaque development and destabilization. RECENT FINDINGS: Proteoglycans-glycosaminoglycans (PGs-GAGs) synthesis and remodelling, as well as elastin synthesis, cross-linking, degradation and its elastokines potentially affect disease progression, providing multiple steps for potential therapeutic intervention and diagnostic targeted imaging. Of note, GAGs biosynthetic enzymes modulate the phenotype of vascular resident and infiltrating cells. In addition, while plaque collagen structure exerts very palpable effects on its immediate surroundings, a new role for collagen is also emerging on a more systemic level as a biomarker for cardiovascular disease as well as a target for selective drug-delivery. SUMMARY: The importance of studying the ECM in atherosclerosis is more and more acknowledged and various systems are being developed to visualize, target and mimic it.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Cell and Molecular Biology
- Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems