Atherosclerosis is a major cause of stroke, coronary heart disease,
peripheral vascular disease, and aortic aneurysm. Because of the prevalence
and importance of these diseases, atherosclerotic lesions within arteries
have been extensively studied.1,2
While many risk factors have been identified,1,2
the mechanism by which the lesions are formed remains unknown. The most popular
concept is that the endothelium lining the lumen of the artery becomes damaged.
This damage alters the properties of the endothelium and leads to a cascade
of events culminating in fibrosis, necrosis, lipid accumulation, and eventually
calcification. There have been several candidates forwarded as putative initiators
of endothelial injury including microorganisms.1
Recent studies have shown an association between an obligate intracellular
bacterium, Chlamydia pneumoniae, and atherosclerosis.3,4
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