Nat Rev Cardiol 2017 03 1;14(3):133-144. Epub 2016 Dec 1.
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford, Headley Way, Oxford, OX3 9DU, UK.
Inflammatory processes are firmly established as central to the development and complications of cardiovascular diseases. Elevated levels of inflammatory markers have been shown to be predictive of future cardiovascular events. The specific targeting of these processes in experimental models has been shown to attenuate myocardial and arterial injury, reduce disease progression, and promote healing. However, the translation of these observations and the demonstration of clear efficacy in clinical practice have been disappointing. A major limitation might be that tools currently used to measure 'inflammation' are insufficiently precise and do not provide information about disease site and activity, or discriminate between functionally important activation pathways. The challenge, therefore, is to make measures of inflammation that are more meaningful, and which can guide specific targeted therapies. In this Review, we consider the roles of inflammatory processes in the related pathologies of atherosclerosis and acute myocardial infarction, by providing an evaluation of the known and emerging inflammatory pathways. We highlight contemporary techniques to characterize and quantify inflammation, and consider how they might be used to guide specific treatments. Finally, we discuss emerging opportunities in the field, including their current limitations and challenges that are the focus of ongoing study.