Atherosclerosis, a chronic multifactorial disease, is closely related to the development of cardiovascular diseases and is one of the predominant causes of death worldwide. Normal vascular endothelial cells play an important role in maintaining vascular homeostasis and inhibiting atherosclerosis by regulating vascular tension, preventing thrombosis and regulating inflammation. Currently, accumulating evidence has revealed that endothelial cell apoptosis is the first step of atherosclerosis. Excess apoptosis of endothelial cells induced by risk factors for atherosclerosis is a preliminary event in atherosclerosis development and might be a target for preventing and treating atherosclerosis. Interestingly, accumulating evidence shows that natural medicines have great potential to treat atherosclerosis by inhibiting endothelial cell apoptosis. Therefore, this paper reviewed current studies on the inhibitory effect of natural medicines on endothelial cell apoptosis and summarized the risk factors that may induce endothelial cell apoptosis, including oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL), reactive oxygen species (ROS), angiotensin II (Ang II), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), homocysteine (Hcy) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We expect this review to highlight the importance of natural medicines, including extracts and monomers, in the treatment of atherosclerosis by inhibiting endothelial cell apoptosis and provide a foundation for the development of potential antiatherosclerotic drugs from natural medicines.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.