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J Immunol. 2005 Jun 15;174(12):7506-15.

Release of high mobility group box 1 by dendritic cells controls T cell activation via the receptor for advanced glycation end products.

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  • 1Cancer Immunotherapy and Gene Therapy Program, Clinical Immunology Unit, H. San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy.


High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is an abundant and conserved nuclear protein that is released by necrotic cells and acts in the extracellular environment as a primary proinflammatory signal. In this study we show that human dendritic cells, which are specialized in Ag presentation to T cells, actively release their own HMGB1 into the extracellular milieu upon activation. This secreted HMGB1 is necessary for the up-regulation of CD80, CD83, and CD86 surface markers of human dendritic cells and for IL-12 production. The HMGB1 secreted by dendritic cells is also required for the clonal expansion, survival, and functional polarization of naive T cells. Using neutralizing Abs and receptor for advanced glycation end product-deficient (RAGE(-/-)) cells, we demonstrate that RAGE is required for the effect of HMGB1 on dendritic cells. HMGB1/RAGE interaction results in downstream activation of MAPKs and NF-kappaB. The use of an ancient signal of necrosis, HMGB1, by dendritic cells to sustain their own maturation and for activation of T lymphocytes represents a profitable evolutionary mechanism.

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