Roles of heat-shock proteins in innate and adaptive immunity

Nat Rev Immunol. 2002 Mar;2(3):185-94. doi: 10.1038/nri749.


Heat-shock proteins (HSPs) are the most abundant and ubiquitous soluble intracellular proteins. In single-cell organisms, invertebrates and vertebrates, they perform a multitude of housekeeping functions that are essential for cellular survival. In higher vertebrates, their ability to interact with a wide range of proteins and peptides--a property that is shared by major histocompatibility complex molecules--has made the HSPs uniquely suited to an important role in organismal survival by their participation in innate and adaptive immune responses. The immunological properties of HSPs enable them to be used in new immunotherapies of cancers and infections.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / physiology*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Immunotherapy
  • Infections / therapy
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • Vaccination


  • Heat-Shock Proteins