The following chapter addresses vascular fibroblasts in a healthy, quiescent state, as well during vascular inflammation, focusing on atherosclerosis. The development of atherosclerosis, an inflammatory disease of medium- and large-sized arteries, has traditionally been viewed as an “inside-out” mechanism, with prominent roles of the innermost layer of the artery, consisting of endothelial cells. However, emerging evidence suggests a new paradigm of “outside-in” mechanism, including an earlier role for fibroblasts, constituents of the outermost adventitial layer of the artery. Phenotypic and functional changes of fibroblasts in adventitia may even occur prior to, or alongside endothelial activation. Activated adventitial fibroblasts, implicated in atherosclerosis progression, begin to transform into myofibroblasts, upregulate production of different proinflammatory cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, proteolytic enzymes, extracellular matrix proteins and reactive oxygen species, leading to extensive matrix remodeling, chemotaxis and recruitment of immune cells. Due to their suitable location for drug delivery systems, preventing fibroblast activation, modulating their activity or inducing myofibroblast dedifferentiation could represent a promising therapeutic approach for atherosclerosis regression.
Part of the book: Fibroblasts