Atherosclerotic coronary artery disease has a complex pathogenesis which extends beyond cholesterol intimal infiltration. It involves chronic inflammation of the coronary artery wall driven by systemic and local activation of both the adaptive and innate immune systems, which can ultimately result in the rupture or erosion of atherosclerotic plaque, leading to thrombosis and myocardial infarction (MI). Despite current best practice care, including the widespread use of cholesterol-lowering statins, atherothrombotic cardiovascular events recur at alarming rates post-MI. To a large extent, this reflects residual inflammation that is not adequately controlled by contemporary treatment. Consequently, there has been increasing interest in the pharmacological targeting of inflammation to improve outcomes in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. This has comprised both novel pathway-specific agents, most notably the anti-interleukin-1 beta monoclonal antibody, canakinumab, and the repurposing of established, broad-acting drugs, such as colchicine, that are already approved for the management of other inflammatory conditions. Here we discuss the importance of inflammation in mediating atherosclerosis and its complications and provide a timely update on “new” and “old” anti-inflammatory therapies currently being investigated to target it.

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PubMed