• Open Access

Vascular cell adhesion molecule-1: a viable therapeutic target for atherosclerosis?


  • Disclosures The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

David J. Preiss, Department of Biochemistry, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0SF, UK
Tel.: + 44 141 2114235
Fax: + 44 141 5532558
Email: davidpreiss@doctors.org.uk


Atherosclerosis is now well recognised as a chronic inflammatory process which may ultimately lead to myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. The role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis has lead to interest in developing therapies that target vascular inflammation. Leucocytes play a key role during atherosclerotic plaque development. Activated vascular endothelium expresses vascular cell adhesion cell molecule-1 (VCAM-1), a member of the adhesion molecule superfamily, to which monocytes and lymphocytes can bind. These inflammatory cells can then move through the endothelium by diapedesis and release cytokines and enzymes, important components in the progression of the lesion. Researchers have demonstrated that the extent of atherosclerotic lesions is significantly reduced in animal models with decreased VCAM-1 expression. VCAM-1 has therefore been identified as a potential anti-inflammatory therapeutic target, the hypothesis being that reduced expression of VCAM-1 will slow the development of atherosclerosis. Succinobucol (AGI-1067), an anti-oxidant compound also capable of inhibiting VCAM-1 gene expression, is an example of such an agent and is currently being investigated in a phase III cardiovascular end-point trial due to report in 2007. If the results are positive, further investigations should derive to what extent blockade of VCAM-1 by succinobucol, rather than its other effects, accounts for the reduction in vascular events.