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Immunity in atherosclerosis: novel assays, biomarkers and therapeutic approaches

Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease resulting in the formation of an arterial plaque. Despite lipid lowering, recurrent cardiovascular events remain a risk. While atherosclerosis is primarily lipid-driven, the immune system plays a critical role in the pathophysiology.

H.W. Grievink
26 October 2023
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Additional treatment could be achieved via immunomodulation. We aimed to identify potential biomarkers for monitoring of immunomodulatory drugs in future clinical trials and investigated pharmacological modulation of atherogenic pathways. We identified smokers and elderly healthy people as suitable groups for future clinical trials. We investigated the impact of sample aging on LPS responses, and optimized methodology for evaluation of LPS-driven neutrophil responses, in vitro and in vivo. As potential anti-atherogenic strategy, we evaluated the effect of pneumococcal vaccination on circulating oxLDL-IgM levels in man. The immunomodulatory impact of hydroxychloroquine, a drug with potential anti-atherogenic effects, was evaluated in healthy volunteers. A novel OX40L inhibitor was tested in healthy volunteers, since the OX40-OX40L axis may play a role in atherogenesis. OX40L inhibition was safe and effectively reduced T cell activity. Lastly, we showed that PD-1 agonism reduced atherosclerosis in Ldlr-/- mice. This thesis adds to the future development of effective and specific immunomodulatory treatments for atherosclerosis.

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