Purpose of review: Despite current therapy, coronary artery disease (CAD) remains the major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. CAD is the consequence of a complex array of deranged metabolic processes including the immune system. In this context, monocytes and macrophages are indisputable players. Thus, monocyte gene expression analysis could be a powerful tool to provide new insights in the pathophysiology of CAD and improve identification of individuals at risk. We discuss current literature assessing monocyte gene expression and its association with CAD.
Recent findings: Monocyte surface markers CD14++ and CD16+ have been established as biomarkers for increased cardiovascular disease risk in a large number of studies. More in-depth gene expression analysis identified several interesting genes, such as ABCA1, CD36 and MSR1 with an increased expression in circulating monocytes from patients with CAD. The results for CD36 were replicated in one other study. For ABCA1 and MSR1 conflicting data are published.
Summary: Recent findings indicate that genetic differences exist in circulating monocytes of patients suffering from CAD, giving us more insights into the underlying mechanisms. However, larger studies are required to prove that monocytes’ expression signature could serve as a marker for diagnostic purposes in the future.