Novel directions in inflammation as a therapeutic target in atherosclerosis

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Purpose of review

Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease of the arterial wall largely driven by inflammation; hence, therapeutics targeting inflammatory pathways are considered an attractive strategy in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). The purpose of this review is to describe the randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials currently investigating the impact of anti-inflammatory strategies in ASCVD patients, to discuss novel insights and targets into the role of innate immunity in atherosclerosis and to address the promise of local drug delivery as opposed to systemic therapies in atherosclerotic disease.

Recent findings

The first clinical trials using systemic anti-inflammatory drugs in ASCVD patients might be able to strengthen the case for immunomodulation once showing an improved ASCVD outcome. Several specific targets in innate immunity bear therapeutic potential, of which some have already entered the clinical arena. To prevent immunosuppression by systemic effects, drug delivery systems are increasingly being applied to locally attenuate plaque inflammation.


Anti-inflammatory therapies seem promising for future treatment of ASCVD. In view of the risk of immunosuppression in case of long term and systemic use of anti-inflammatory drugs, there is a clinical need for highly selective and targeted therapies in patients with atherosclerosis.

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