Heat shock proteins – an important component of immune response

Authors: M. Remáková;  P. Novota
Authors‘ workplace: Revmatologický ústav Praha
Published in: Čes. Revmatol., 17, 2009, No. 4, p. 206-212.
Category: Overview Reports


Autoimmune diseases affect approximately 5–7% of the human population. They are characterized by the ability to distinguish and destroy self cells, tissues and organs. The genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) belong to the most important genes which are associated with the development of autoimmune diseases. The function of MHC class I/II molecules in the development of autoimmune diseases has been well documented recently, whereas the impact of other MHC genes has not been sufficiently studied yet. An area of approximately 150 “non class I/II MHC genes” belongs to the group of MHC genes as well. These genes are predominantly involved in immune and inflammatory response of the organism, and thus represent an interesting subject in association with the development of autoimmune diseases. Three genes for heat shock proteins (HSP) of 70kDa in size are localized in this part of MHC, between the genes of class I and II. Experimental and clinical trials confirmed that HSP are involved in the regulation of some autoimmune diseases. Their high evolutionary conservation, significant role in intracellular processes, as well as inducibility of their expression during cellular stress highlight their significant role in homeostatic maintenance. This report describes the role of these molecules in etiopathogenesis of autoimmune diseases.

Key words:
autoimmunity, major histocompatibility complex (MHC), risk factor, heat shock protein (HSP)


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