Efferocytosis of vascular cells in cardiovascular disease

Jody Tori O. Cabrera, Ayako Makino

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Cell death and the clearance of apoptotic cells are tightly regulated by various signaling molecules in order to maintain physiological tissue function and homeostasis. The phagocytic removal of apoptotic cells is known as the process of efferocytosis, and abnormal efferocytosis is linked to various health complications and diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases, and autoimmune diseases. During efferocytosis, phagocytic cells and/or apoptotic cells release signals, such as “find me” and “eat me” signals, to stimulate the phagocytic engulfment of apoptotic cells. Primary phagocytic cells are macrophages and dendritic cells; however, more recently, other neighboring cell types have also been shown to exhibit phagocytic character, including endothelial cells and fibroblasts, although they are comparatively slower in clearing dead cells. In this review, we focus on macrophage efferocytosis of vascular cells, such as endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, fibroblasts, and pericytes, and its relation to the progression and development of cardiovascular disease. We also highlight the role of efferocytosis-related molecules and their contribution to the maintenance of vascular homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107919
JournalPharmacology and Therapeutics
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiovascular complications
  • endothelial cell
  • engulfment of apoptotic cells
  • macrophage
  • phagocytosis
  • smooth muscle cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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