High-mobility group box 1, oxidative stress, and disease

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011 Apr 1;14(7):1315-35. doi: 10.1089/ars.2010.3356.


Oxidative stress and associated reactive oxygen species can modify lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids, and induce the mitochondrial permeability transition, providing a signal leading to the induction of autophagy, apoptosis, and necrosis. High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein, a chromatin-binding nuclear protein and damage-associated molecular pattern molecule, is integral to oxidative stress and downstream apoptosis or survival. Accumulation of HMGB1 at sites of oxidative DNA damage can lead to repair of the DNA. As a redox-sensitive protein, HMGB1 contains three cysteines (Cys23, 45, and 106). In the setting of oxidative stress, it can form a Cys23-Cys45 disulfide bond; a role for oxidative homo- or heterodimerization through the Cys106 has been suggested for some of its biologic activities. HMGB1 causes activation of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase and increased reactive oxygen species production in neutrophils. Reduced and oxidized HMGB1 have different roles in extracellular signaling and regulation of immune responses, mediated by signaling through the receptor for advanced glycation end products and/or Toll-like receptors. Antioxidants such as ethyl pyruvate, quercetin, green tea, N-acetylcysteine, and curcumin are protective in the setting of experimental infection/sepsis and injury including ischemia-reperfusion, partly through attenuating HMGB1 release and systemic accumulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism
  • Cell Death
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair
  • HMGB1 Protein / antagonists & inhibitors
  • HMGB1 Protein / chemistry
  • HMGB1 Protein / metabolism*
  • HSP72 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Transport
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Reperfusion Injury / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • HMGB1 Protein
  • HSP72 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Cysteine