Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are a large family of proteins highly conserved throughout evolution because of their unique cytoprotective properties. Besides assisting protein refolding and regulating proteostasis under stressful conditions, HSPs also play an important role in protecting cells from oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis. Therefore, HSPs are crucial in counteracting the deleterious effects of hyperglycemia in target organs of diabetes vascular complications. Changes in HSP expression have been demonstrated in diabetic complications and functionally related to hyperglycemia-induced cell injury. Moreover, associations between diabetic complications and altered circulating levels of both HSPs and anti-HSPs have been shown in clinical studies. HSPs thus represent an exciting therapeutic opportunity and might also be valuable as clinical biomarkers. However, this field of research is still in its infancy and further studies in both experimental diabetes and humans are required to gain a full understanding of HSP relevance. In this review, we summarize current knowledge and discuss future perspective.
Keywords: HSP47; HSP60; HSP70; HSP90; Heat shock protein (HSP) 27; albuminuria; biomarkers; diabetes; diabetes complications; diabetic nephropathy; diabetic neuropathy; diabetic retinopathy; heat shock proteins.