Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the arterial wall that leads to the build-up of occluding atherosclerotic plaques. Its clinical sequelae, myocardial infarction and stroke, represent the most frequent causes of death worldwide. Atherosclerosis is a multifactorial pathology that involves traditional risk factors and chronic low-grade inflammation in the atherosclerotic plaque and systemically. This process is accompanied by a strong autoimmune response that involves autoreactive T cells in lymph nodes and atherosclerotic plaques, as well as autoantibodies that recognize low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and its main protein component apolipoprotein B (ApoB). In the past 60 years, numerous preclinical observations have suggested that immunomodulatory vaccination with LDL, ApoB, or its peptides has the potential to specifically dampen autoimmunity, enhance tolerance to atherosclerosis-specific antigens, and protect from experimental atherosclerosis in mouse models. Here, we summarize and discuss mechanisms, challenges, and therapeutic opportunities of immunomodulatory vaccination and other strategies to enhance protective immunity in atherosclerosis.
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