Heat shock proteins (HSPs) play a regulatory role for maturation of antigen-presenting cells (APCs) such as dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages. Whereas HSP70 has been shown to enhance the maturation of human DCs via a nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB)-dependent pathway, the regulatory role of calreticulin (CRT), which is a HSP with similar functions to HSP70, is not well studied. To investigate the role of CRT as adjuvant in cell activation and co-stimulatory responses we determined the effects of CRT on human APC maturation in comparison to that of HSP70. To facilitate eukaryotic endotoxin-free CRT protein expression, three different methods were compared. We demonstrate that CRT induces the maturation of human DCs and increases the production of proinflammatory cytokines via the NF-κB pathway. CRT-mediated maturation was qualitatively similar to that induced by HSP70. Interestingly, priming of monocytes with HSPs showed an even more prominent effect on maturation than exposure of immature DCs to these compounds. A higher expression of CD86, CD83 and CCR7 on mature DCs were found in response to CRT. Our data provide novel insights into the role of extracellular HSPs as chaperokines in the processes of APC generation and may thus be useful to improve adoptive immunotherapy.
© 2011 The Authors; Clinical and Experimental Immunology © 2011 British Society for Immunology.