Heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) engages Toll-like receptors (TLR) 2 and 4 when found in the extracellular compartment and contributes to inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Since there is growing evidence for the genetic risk factors for COPD, the gene expression of HSP70, TLR2 and TLR4 was determined, as well as the association between HSP70, TLR2 and TLR4 single nucleotide polymorphisms, (SNPs) and COPD. The gene expression was assessed in peripheral blood cells of 137 COPD patients and 95 controls by a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), while a total of nine SNPs were genotyped by TaqMan allelic discrimination real-time PCR. HSP70 and TLR2 gene expression was increased in COPD patients compared to the controls, regardless of the disease severity and smoking status of participants. The rs6457452 SNP of HSP70 was associated with COPD, indicating the protective role of the T allele (OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.24-0.89, p = 0.022). Furthermore, COPD C/T heterozygotes showed a decreased HSP70 mRNA level compared to COPD C/C homozygotes. In conclusion, HSP70 and TLR2 may have a role in the pathogenesis of COPD, and the HSP70 rs6457452 variant might influence the genetic susceptibility to COPD in the Croatian population.
Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; heat shock protein 70; single nucleotide polymorphism; toll-like receptor 2; toll-like receptor 4.