MicroRNA sequences modulating inflammation and lipid accumulation in macrophage “foam” cells: implications for atherosclerosis

Richard James Lightbody, Janice Marie Walsh Taylor, Yvonne Dempsie, Annette Graham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Accumulation of macrophage “foam” cells, laden with cholesterol and cholesteryl ester, within the intima of large arteries, is a hallmark of early “fatty streak” lesions which can progress to complex, multicellular atheromatous plaques, involving lipoproteins from the bloodstream and cells of the innate and adaptive immune response. Sterol accumulation triggers induction of genes encoding proteins mediating the atheroprotective cholesterol efflux pathway. Within the arterial intima, however, this mechanism is overwhelmed, leading to distinct changes in macrophage phenotype and inflammatory status. Over the last decade marked gains have been made in understanding of the epigenetic landscape which influence macrophage function, and in particular the importance of small non-coding micro-RNA (miRNA) sequences in this context. This review identifies some of the miRNA sequences which play a key role in regulating “foam” cell formation and atherogenesis, highlighting sequences involved in cholesterol accumulation, those influencing inflammation in sterol-loaded cells, and novel sequences and pathways which may offer new strategies to influence macrophage function within atherosclerotic lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-333
Number of pages31
JournalWorld Journal of Cardiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2020


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cholesterol
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Inflammation
  • Macrophage “foam” cell
  • MicroRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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