Chapter 19. Atherosclerosis: Cellular Aspects

  1. Prof. Dr. Edmund Bäuerlein
  1. Diane Proudfoot and
  2. Catherine M. Shanahan

Published Online: 20 MAR 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9783527619443.ch63

Handbook of Biomineralization: Biological Aspects and Structure Formation

Handbook of Biomineralization: Biological Aspects and Structure Formation

How to Cite

Proudfoot, D. and Shanahan, C. M. (2007) Atherosclerosis: Cellular Aspects, in Handbook of Biomineralization: Biological Aspects and Structure Formation (ed E. Bäuerlein), Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH, Weinheim, Germany. doi: 10.1002/9783527619443.ch63

Editor Information

  1. Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry, Department of Membrane Biochemistry, Am Klopferspitz 18 A, 82152 Planegg, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 MAR 2008
  2. Published Print: 25 MAY 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9783527316410

Online ISBN: 9783527619443



  • atherosclerosis;
  • cells;
  • calcification;
  • calcium;
  • vascular smooth muscle;
  • macrophages;
  • apoptosis;
  • matrix vesicles


Calcification is an extremely common pathology in atherosclerosis, and correlates with the severity of coronary artery disease. Calcium crystal development occurs at very early stages of the disease, and involves both physico-chemical interactions as well as complex cellular interactions within the arterial intima. Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and cells associated with inflammation, such as the macrophage, are the two main cell types associated with atherosclerosis. Both have a role in the development of calcification via release of various factors including matrix vesicles, bone-related proteins and extracellular matrix components which create an environment that will support calcium crystal growth. Cell death within the atherosclerotic plaque is also an important mechanism in generating calcified deposits. In this chapter, we discuss the roles of the different types of cell within atherosclerotic plaques, and how they might contribute to or limit calcification.