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Atherosclerosis is a disease triggered by diverse exogenous stimuli and sustained by chronic inflammatory processes. Dendritic cells (DCs) are key regulatory antigen-presenting cells and play a crucial role in regulating the adaptive and innate immune system in any chronic inflammatory process. DCs are present in atherosclerotic lesions in the areas of the highest T-cell density. So far, their role in atherosclerosis has not been fully elucidated. We investigated the phenotypic properties of DCs in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) in comparison to healthy individuals.Peripheral blood monocytes were isolated from 50 patients with CAD and 19 healthy individuals and differentiated over 9 days to immature and mature DCs. Analysis of the distribution of important stimulatory and costimulatory molecules on the surface of immature and mature DCs was performed by flow cytometry.We observed no changes between the groups concerning cell numbers or expression of CD1a or HLA-DR on DCs. Patients with CAD, however, showed a significant upregulation of the costimulatory molecules CD80, CD86 and CD40 as compared with healthy controls. Expression of CD40, CD80 and CD86 on DCs partly correlated with smoking, family history of CAD, as well as with C-reactive protein levels. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol was inversely associated with the expression of CD40 and CD80 on mature DCs (P<0.05).Upregulation of important costimulatory molecules on monocyte-derived DCs of CAD patients, is influenced multifactorially. Our results show notable differences between CAD patients and healthy individuals, possibly contributing to the pathophysiological processes in atherogenesis.