Atherosclerosis involves a gradual process of inflammation with the stiffening of the arterial wall. This inflammatory condition can be caused by many factors, including elevated cellularity, lipid accrual, cellular debris, as well as extracellular substances (De Leon et al., 2015). Among these factors, lipids are crucial in atherosclerosis as they are the key components of the vascular plaques (Ekroos et al., 2010).
Lipid biomarkers have important roles in the translational studies of cardiovascular disease (CVD) such as atherosclerosis. Large amounts of clinical data from the analyses of plasma lipoproteins have established the relationships between low- and high-density lipoproteins (LDL and HDL) with higher risks for CVD. In the examination of the effects of statins by analyzing human plasma samples, associations were identified between the LDL/HDL ratio, sphingomyelin and phosphatidylcholine (De Leon et al., 2015).
The emerging studies in systems biology and lipidomics (i.e., the “omics” study of lipids) can be useful for the discovery of lipid-based biomarkers. Such biomarkers would help improve the CVD diagnosis as well as therapeutic efficacy and safety (Ekroos et al., 2010). They can also be applied in the design of translational models that can be used for the examination and improvement of drug efficacy.
De Leon H, Boue S, Szostak J, Peitsch MC, Hoeng J. Systems Biology Research into Cardiovascular Disease: Contributions of Lipidomics-based Approaches to Biomarker Discovery. Curr Drug Discov Technol. 2015 Jul 2.
Ekroos K, Jänis M, Tarasov K, Hurme R, Laaksonen R. Lipidomics: a tool for studies of atherosclerosis. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2010 Jul;12(4):273-81. doi: 10.1007/s11883-010-0110-y.