The contribution of dyslipidemia and inflammation in atherosclerosis is well established. Along with effective lipid-lowering treatments, the recent success of clinical trials with anti-inflammatory therapies and the accelerated atherosclerosis in many autoimmune diseases suggest that targeting inflammation may open new avenues for the prevention and the treatment for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). In the past decades, studies have widened the role of type-I interferons (IFNs) in disease, from antivirus defense to autoimmune responses and immuno-metabolic syndromes. While elevated type-I IFN level in serum is associated with CVD incidence in patients with interferonopathies, experimental data have attested that type-I IFNs affect plaque-residing macrophages, potentiate foam cell and extracellular trap formation, induce endothelial dysfunction, alter the phenotypes of dendritic cells and T and B lymphocytes, and lead to exacerbated atherosclerosis outcomes. In this review, we discuss the production and the effects of type-I IFNs in different atherosclerosis-associated cell types from molecular biology studies, animal models, and clinical observations, and the potential of new therapies against type-I IFN signaling for atherosclerosis.
In this issue of JEM , Zhang et al. ( https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20171417 ) show that the suppressive epigenetic enzyme Ezh2 is an important regulator of macrophage activation. The absence of Ezh2 leads to reduced cytokine secretion and suppresses macrophage-dependent disease development. They identify the antiinflammatory factor Socs3 as an important target for Ezh2 and thus show that regulation of suppressive histone modifications controls macrophage activation in disease.