Examining the role for intimal cell communication in early atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a disease defined by unresolved inflammation in the major arteries. High cholesterol is a major risk factor, resulting in fatty lesions developing silently for decades before causing heart attacks and strokes. Currently, no therapies exist that target the cells of the artery wall to suppress this disease. Myeloid cells (MCs) are white blood cells found in the inner artery wall, residing under a barrier of cells called endothelial cells (ECs). In the aorta, MCs are found only in areas where lesions grow. In mice with high cholesterol, arterial MCs engulf lipid and become "foam cells". This is the first step in the formation of atherosclerosis. I believe that MCs and ECs communicate with each other within the artery wall and elevated cholesterol disrupts this communication. This work aims to target the cells within the artery, to restore proper cell communication, reduce inflammation, and ultimately decrease cardiovascular disease.