Heme and haemoglobin direct macrophage Mhem phenotype and counter foam cell formation in areas of intraplaque haemorrhage

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Purpose of reviewSeveral studies have recently shown that haemoglobin drives a novel macrophage subset that is protected from foam cell formation.Recent findingsIn a previously overlooked area, two centres have independently shown that heme and haemoglobin drive an atheroprotective macrophage subset. We compare and contrast the approaches and findings of the laboratories and discuss some of the underlying biology and implications, concentrating on the aspects of lipidological relevance.SummaryTreatments based on direct heme-mimetics or other agonists of this pathway have enormous potential for linked antioxidant protection via heme oxygenase 1 and reduced foam cell formation via liver X receptor, a potent combination for treating atherosclerosis.

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