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Biogerontology. 2007 Jun;8(3):353-64. Epub 2007 Jan 9.

Basal and infection-induced levels of heat shock proteins in human aging.

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  • 1Gerontology and Geriatrics, Academic Hospital, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090, Brussels, Belgium.


Heat shock proteins (Hsp) are ubiquitously expressed proteins, which are highly inducible by a variety of stressful stimuli. As organisms age, various denatured proteins such as proteins modified by oxidation have been detected. Such abnormal proteins might serve as stress signals for the induction of Hsp, which plays indispensable roles in protecting proteins from denaturation. Although it is well known that the heat shock induced expression of Hsp decreases with age, little attention has been given to the unstimulated, basal levels of Hsp. Therefore, a study was performed to examine the expression pattern of various Hsp with aging, under normal physiological conditions in human peripheral blood cells. The basal levels of Hsp32, Hsp70 and Hsp90 increased significantly with age in controls but not patients. Moreover, the levels of Hsp32, Hsp70, Hsp90, but not Hsp27 correlated positively among each other, indicating both common and different regulatory mechanisms. Higher levels of Hsp32, Hsp70 and Hsp90 were noticed in patients with inflammation, a commonly occurring natural stimulant of Hsp production, compared to control subjects. The production of Hsp appeared to be related to the circulating levels of C-reactive protein and cytokines.

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