Molecular chaperones and heat shock proteins in atherosclerosis

Qingbo Xu, Bernhard Metzler, Marjan Jahangiri, Kaushik Mandal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


In response to stress stimuli, mammalian cells activate an ancient signaling pathway leading to the transient expression of heat shock proteins (HSPs). HSPs are a family of proteins serving as molecular chaperones that prevent the formation of nonspecific protein aggregates and assist proteins in the acquisition of their native structures. Physiologically, HSPs play a protective role in the homeostasis of the vessel wall but have an impact on immunoinflammatory processes in pathological conditions involved in the development of atherosclerosis. For instance, some members of HSPs have been shown to have immunoregulatory properties and modification of innate and adaptive response to HSPs, and can protect the vessel wall from the disease. On the other hand, a high degree of sequence homology between microbial and mammalian HSPs, due to evolutionary conservation, carries a risk of misdirected autoim-munity against HSPs expressed on the stressed cells of vascular endothelium. Furthermore, HSPs and anti-HSP antibodies have been shown to elicit production of proinflammatory cytokines. Potential therapeutic use of HSP in prevention of atherosclerosis involves achieving optimal balance between protective and immu-nogenic effects of HSPs and in the progress of research on vaccination. In this review, we update the progress of studies on HSPs and the integrity of the vessel wall, discuss the mechanism by which HSPs exert their role in the disease development, and highlight the potential clinic translation in the research field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H506-H514
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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