2017 Volume 24 Issue 5 Pages 443-451
Inflammation with macrophage infiltration is a key feature of atherosclerosis. Although the mechanisms had been unclear, emerging evidence unveiled that NLRP3 inflammasomes, which regulate caspase-1 activation and subsequent processing of pro-IL-1β, trigger vascular wall inflammatory responses and lead to progression of atherosclerosis. NLRP3 inflammasomes are activated by various danger signals, such as cholesterol crystals, calcium phosphate crystals, and oxidized low-density lipoprotein in macrophages, to initiate inflammatory responses in the atherosclerotic lesion. Recent studies have further clarified the regulatory mechanisms and the potential therapeutic agents that target NLRP3 inflammasomes. In this study, we reviewed the present state of knowledge on the role of NLRP3 inflammasomes in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and discussed the therapeutic approaches that target NLRP3 inflammasomes.