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The rising epidemic of cardiovascular (CV) disease is fuelled by obesity, hypertension and diabetes and, independently and cumulatively, by an aging population. Extensive research identified immunoinflammatory mechanisms as key drivers in the initiation and progression of the disease, from early asymptomatic stages of vascular and myocardial injury leading to the clinically manifest dysfunction and remodeling in advanced stages. Underlying processes include endothelial dysfunction and extracellular matrix restructuration leading to increased vascular stiffness, as well as myocardial remodeling with dilatation and wall thinning. In this, overproduction of tumor necrosis factor-α, amongst others, contributes to generalized CV injury and dysfunction. Moreover, recent insights into the involvement of innate and adaptive immunity in atherosclerosis have shed light on many interesting parallels with chronic systemic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, with aggravated inflammation-induced vascular and myocardial injury. Besides, chronologic age has been identified as a potent, independent risk for reduced CV capacity and a plethora of heart diseases, with other modifiable risk factors acting as accelerators. We discuss the available evidence and propose that characterization of inflammatory CV responses might reveal a distinctive CV inflammatory phenotype. A comprehensive noninvasive bio-signature, comprising immunomic biomarkers and integrated noninvasive imaging, may serve as a potential tool in the early diagnosis and prognostication of CV risk.

Original publication

DOI

10.1159/000316577

Type

Journal article

Journal

Gerontology

Publication Date

2011

Volume

57

Pages

295 - 303

Keywords

Aged, Aging, Atherosclerosis, Cardiovascular Diseases, Endothelium, Vascular, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Myocardial Reperfusion Injury, Phenotype, Prognosis, Proteomics, Risk Assessment, Ventricular Remodeling