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Myeloid cell contributions to cardiovascular health and disease


Recent advances in cell tracing and sequencing technologies have expanded our knowledge on leukocyte behavior. As a consequence, inflammatory cells, such as monocyte-derived macrophages, and their actions and products are increasingly being considered as potential drug targets for treatment of atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction and heart failure. Particularly promising developments are the identification of harmful arterial and cardiac macrophage subsets, the cells’ altered, sometimes even clonal production in hematopoietic organs, and epigenetically entrained memories of myeloid progenitors and macrophages in the setting of cardiovascular disease. Given the roles of monocytes and macrophages in host defense, intricately understanding the involved cellular subsets, sources and functions is essential for the design of precision therapeutics that preserve protective innate immunity. Here I review how new clinical and preclinical data, often linking the cardiovascular, immune and other organ systems, propel conceptual advances to a point where cardiovascular immunotherapy appears within reach.

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This work was funded in part by federal funds from the National Institutes of Health NS084863, HL139598, HL128264, HL117829, HL096576 and HL131495; the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement no. 667837; the Global Research Lab (GRL) program (NRF-2015K1A1A2028228) of the National Research Foundation by the Korean government and the MGH Research Scholar Program.

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Correspondence to Matthias Nahrendorf.

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Further reading

Fig. 1: Hematopoiesis and CVD.
Fig. 2: The hematopoietic niche and CVD.
Fig. 3: Clonal hematopoiesis.