The regulation of macrophage cholesterol homoeostasis is of crucial importance in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, an underlying cause of heart attack and stroke. Several recent studies have revealed a critical role for the cytokine TGF-β (transforming growth factor-β), a key regulator of the immune and inflammatory responses, in atherogenesis. We discuss here the TGF-β signalling pathway and its role in this disease along with the outcome of our recent studies on the action of the cytokine on the expression of key genes implicated in the uptake or efflux of cholesterol by macrophages and the molecular mechanisms underlying such regulation.

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