Lesions of atherosclerosis occur in the innermost layer of the artery wall and consist primarily of proliferated smooth muscle cells surrounded by large amounts of connective tissue, numerous lipid-laden macrophages, and varying numbers of lymphocytes. Growth-regulatory molecules may be involved in intimal accumulation and proliferation of smooth muscle cells responsible for the occlusive lesions of atherosclerosis. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) B-chain protein was found within macrophages in all stages of lesion development in both human and nonhuman primate atherosclerosis. Thus macrophages may play a critical role in the disease by providing PDGF, a potent chemotactic and growth-stimulatory molecule, to the intimal smooth muscle cells.

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