Atherosclerosis: Potential targets for stabilization and regression

C. J. Schwartz, A. J. Valente, E. A. Sprague, J. L. Kelley, A. J. Cayatte, J. Mowery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Reviewed are various aspects of atherosclerotic plaque stabilization and regression in humans and experimental animals. Plaque regression is a function of the dynamic balance among initiation, progression, stabilization, and removal of plaque constituents. Pseudoregression, the result of the triad thrombolysis, age- or lesion-dependent arterial dilatation, and relaxation of vasospasm, may readily give rise to angiographic misinterpretation. Although lowering of plasma cholesterol and low density lipoprotein-cholesterol has demonstrated significant clinical benefits in a number of clinical trials, the magnitude of angiographic regressive changes is relatively small despite aggressive lipid-lowering regimens. The emerging need for alternative or complementary therapeutic interventions has been emphasized. In particular, they should be targeted to pivotal cellular or molecular mechanisms in initiation, progression, or stabilization. Potentially important therapeutic targets include the use of antioxidants or free radical scavengers such as Probucol or its analogues, butylated hydroxytoluene, tocopherols, and possibly the tocotrienols. Other therapeutic targets include intimal monocyte-macrophage recruitment, macrophage cholesterol acyltransferase inhibition, stimulation of the high density lipoprotein-mediated reverse cholesterol transport system, smooth muscle cell migration to and proliferation in the arterial intima, and intimal connective tissue synthesis. Whether the isoprenylated proteins associated with the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway will give rise to compounds regulating smooth muscle cell growth has yet to be determined. Because of the importance of thrombosis in the pathogenesis and progression of lesions, the need to develop interventional strategies targeted at endothelial cell thromboresistance and thromboregulation must assume a high priority in future research and development. Other areas of therapeutic promise include the calcium channel blockers and angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors. That human plaques can regress is no longer in doubt. It is anticipated that new modalities of intervention at the cellular and molecular levels will augment the success already achieved with cholesterol lowering alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)III117-III123
Issue number6 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1992


  • Antioxidants
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Macrophages
  • Therapeutic strategies
  • Thromboresistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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