Activation of T lymphocytes in atherosclerotic plaques

Jean-Charles B. Grivel, Oxana Ivanova, Natalia Pinegina, Paul S. Blank, Alexander Shpektor, Leonid B. Margolis, Elena Vasilieva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)


Objective-To decipher the immunologic mechanisms of plaque maturation and rupture, it is necessary to analyze the phenotypes and distribution of individual lymphocytes that migrate to the plaques, as well as their activation at different stages of plaque formation. Methods and results-We developed a protocol to isolate plaque-residing immune cells and analyze their status using polychromatic flow cytometry. We found that the composition and phenotype of T lymphocytes in the plaques differs from that in blood. CD4 and, in particular, CD8 + T cells in plaques are highly activated; the fraction of CD8 T cells coexpressing CD25 and human leukocyte antigen-D related in plaques was 6 times as large as in blood. Conclusion-The first flow-cytoanalysis of individual T cells in atherosclerotic plaques indicates that plaques represent a separate immunologic compartment from blood with lymphocytes characterized by a high level of T-cell activation, which is compatible with the presence of antigen(s) that trigger infiltration activation of these cells. The ability to isolate and characterize these cells may lead to the identification of such antigens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2929-2937
Number of pages9
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes



  • atherosclerosis
  • blood cells
  • immune system
  • immunologic techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Cite this

Grivel, J-C. B., Ivanova, O., Pinegina, N., Blank, P. S., Shpektor, A., Margolis, L. B., & Vasilieva, E. (2011). Activation of T lymphocytes in atherosclerotic plaques. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 31(12), 2929-2937.