Atherosclerosis, May 2016, Volume 248, Pages 97–109 Vascular endothelium – Gatekeeper of vessel health Paul A. Cahill, Eileen M. Redmond Vascular Biology and Therapeutics Laboratory, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland Department of Surgery, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, USA
The vascular endothelium is an interface between the blood stream and the vessel wall. Changes in this single cell layer of the artery wall are believed of primary importance in the pathogenesis of vascular disease/atherosclerosis. The endothelium responds to humoral, neural and especially hemodynamic stimuli and regulates platelet function, inflammatory responses, vascular smooth muscle cell growth and migration, in addition to modulating vascular tone by synthesizing and releasing vasoactive substances. Compromised endothelial function contributes to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease; endothelial ‘dysfunction’ is associated with risk factors, correlates with disease progression, and predicts cardiovascular events. Therapies for atherosclerosis have been developed, therefore, that are directed towards improving endothelial function.