Cell surface molecular chaperones as endogenous modulators of the innate immune response

Novartis Found Symp. 2008:291:74-9; discussion 79-85, 137-40. doi: 10.1002/9780470754030.ch6.


Mammalian responses to bacterial products can lead to an uncontrolled inflammatory response that can be deadly for the host. It has been shown that the innate immune system employs at least three cell surface receptors, TLR4, CD14 and MD2, in order to recognize bacterial products. We have previously shown that heat shock proteins (HSPs) are also involved in the innate immune recognition. HSPs are a family of highly conserved proteins that act as molecular chaperones and assist in proper folding, assembly and intracellular trafficking of proteins. How HSPs reach the cell surface and how they are involved in the innate immune response still remain unclear. In the present study we investigated their association with the TLR4/CD14/MD2 complex in response to bacterial products and provide evidence that the Hsp70 and Hsp90 associate with TLR4 on the cell surface in response to stimulation by bacterial products. These associations seem to take place within lipid rafts. The addition of exogenous recombinant Hsp70 to cells in vitro results in a dose-responsive inhibition of the inflammatory signal cascade and cytokine production. Our studies reveal that HSPs may play an important role as endogenous regulators of the innate immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate* / drug effects
  • Inflammation
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Monocytes / immunology


  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Molecular Chaperones