International Society of Hypertension

Hot Off The Press: Dylan Burger

CD47-blocking antibodies restore phagocytosis and prevent atherosclerosis.

In atherosclerosis, the transition from stable plaque to an unstable plaque is associated with significant cell death and the accumulation of dead cells and debris in the necrotic core. Considerable research has focused on approaches to inhibiting the cell death seen in atherosclerosis for therapy, however increasingly there is an appreciation for the role of failed clearance of the dead cells in the necrotic core.

The clearance of dead/dying cells in the body is accomplished through a process termed efferocytosis (from the Latin efferre, meaning “to take to the grave”). This is largely performed by phagocytic cells such as macrophages, although non-phagocytic cells such as endothelial cells also contribute. Critically, efferocytosis requires the presence of “eat me” signals (i.e. the presence of phosphatidylserine) to distinguish dead from living cells.

In a manuscript published late last year, Kojima and colleagues provide new insights into the process of efferocytosis in atherosclerosis and identify a novel dysregulated pathway which causes deficient efferocytosis, ultimately contributing to increased necrotic core development.


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