Volume 219 | Issue 1 | December 2011

Highlighted Articles

By Sarah Leigh (Editorial Assistant) and Steve Humphries (Editor–in-Chief)

In a non-randomized prospective pilot study Protogerou et al report that the interleukin-6 receptor (IL6) inhibitor, tocilizumab, improves endothelial dysfunction and aortic stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. The therapeutic significance of IL6 as a potential target in the treatment of athero-/arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease is discussed in an invited commentary by Ronald Henry. However, while welcoming immuno-modulation therapy as a new paradigm for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, Ronald Henry cautions that tocilizumab has been reported to raise cholesterol levels in a dose dependent manner in RA patients.

The role of the ATP binding cassette transporter G1 (ABCG1) gene in the development of atherosclerosis has been examined in a Chinese Han population by Xu et al. They report an association between the SNP rs57137919 in the ABCG1 promoter region and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The complexities of ABCG1 actions are discussed in an invited commentary by Le Goff & Dallinga-Thie, who conclude that further studies are needed to explore the full spectrum of these actions.

Two papers published in this issue of Atherosclerosis present apparently conflicting results regarding the effect of ursolic acid on atherosclerosis (Messner et al & Ullevig et al). In her invited commentary Lisa Tannock provides a detailed comparison of the two studies and concludes that differences in the study designs account for the differing results. Furthermore, she suggests that this conflict may inspire a comparative study where the effects of ursolic acid on endothelial cells, macrophages, and other cell types pertinent to atherosclerosis are compared directly

Review Articles

Makris et al present a systematic review of the literature in order to evaluate the effectiveness of 3 dimensional ultrasound (3D US) for the identification of vulnerable carotid plaques. They conclude that although there is heterogeneity between studies, 3D US does provide reproducible results, however, further analysis is required to evaluate the merits of 3D versus 2D ultrasound.

With cardiovascular disease (CVD) becoming a major cause of death in the increasingly aging HIV-positive population, Giannarelli et al present a review of current therapeutic strategies aimed at treating the dyslipidemia which characterizes CVD in this group of patients.

Papers in this issue include:

Vascular Biology, Hemostasis & Oxidative Stress

  • Proteomic analysis of intra-arterial thrombus secretions reveals a negative association of clusterin & thrombospondin-1 with AAA.
  • VEGFR2 signalling contributes to increased endothelial susceptibility to TNF-α under chronic non-uniform shear stress

Metabolism: Lipids, Lipoproteins, Carbohydrates, Homocysteine & Cholesterol

  • Resistance training changes LDL metabolism in normolipidemic subjects: a study with a nanoemulsion mimetic of LDL.
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid administration attenuates pro-inflammatory properties of VLDL by decreasing its susceptibility to lipoprotein lipase in macrophages.

Imaging and Measurement of Vessel Health

  • Molecular imaging with OCT using ligand-conjugated microparticles that detect activated endothelial cells: rational design through target quantification.
  • Feasibility of very-high resolution ultrasound to assess elastic & muscular arterial wall morphology in adolescents attending outpatient clinic for obesity & lipid abnormalities.


  • Polymorphism in the ABCG1 Promoter is Functionally Associated with CAD in a Chinese Han Population.
  • Association of MMP-8 promoter gene polymorphisms with carotid atherosclerosis: Preliminary study.


  • Association of lower total bilirubin level with statin usage: The United States National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2008.
  • A pilot study of endothelial dysfunction & aortic stiffness after IL-6 receptor inhibition in rheumatoid arthritis

Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Nutrition

  • High serum level of lutein may be protective against early atherosclerosis: the Beijing Atherosclerosis Study.
  • Comparison of risk factors for fatal stroke & ischemic heart disease: A prospective follow up of the Health Survey for England.
  • Circulating omentin is associated with coronary artery disease in men