Insights into the important contribution of inflammation and immune functions in the development and progression of atherosclerosis have greatly improved our understanding of this disease. Although the role of T cells has been extensively studied for decades, only recently has the role of B cells gained more attention. Recent studies have identified differential effects of different B-cell subsets and helped to clarify the still poorly understood mechanisms by which these act. B1 cells have been shown to prevent lesion formation, whereas B2 cells have been suggested to promote it. Natural IgM antibodies, mainly derived from B1 cells, have been shown to mediate atheroprotective effects, but the functional role of other immunoglobulin classes, particularly IgG, still remains elusive. In this review, we will focus on recent insights on the role of B cells and various immunoglobulin classes and how these may mediate their effects in atherosclerotic lesion formation. Moreover, we will highlight potential therapeutic approaches focusing on B-cell depletion that could be used to translate experimental evidence to human disease.
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