Definitions for foam cells

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U.S. National Library of Medicine

  1. Foam Cells

    Lipid-laden macrophages originating from monocytes or from smooth muscle cells.

Freebase

  1. Foam cell

    Foam Cells are fat-laden immune cells of the type macrophage. They are an indication of plaque-build up, or atherosclerosis, which is commonly associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Foam cells are formed when the body sends macrophages to the location of a fatty deposit on the blood vessel walls. The macrophage surrounds the fatty material in an attempt to destroy it. The cell becomes filled with lipids. The lipids surrounded by the macrophage give it a “foamy” appearance. In chronic hyperlipidemia, lipoproteins aggregate within the intima of blood vessels and become oxidized by the action of oxygen free radicals generated either by macrophages or endothelial cells. The macrophages engulf oxidized low-density lipoproteins by endocytosis via scavenger receptors, which are distinct from LDL receptors. The oxidized LDL accumulates in the macrophages and other phagocytes, which are then known as foam cells. Foam cells form the fatty streaks of the plaques of atheroma in the tunica intima of arteries. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is contained by a foam cell. LDL is also known as “bad” cholesterol. It becomes a marker for atherosclerosis.

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