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Immunobiology. 1999 Sep;201(1):22-35.

Immune response against heat shock proteins in infectious diseases.

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Department of Immunology, University Clinics Ulm, Germany.


Heat shock proteins (hsp) are conserved molecules that play an important role in protein folding and assembly and in translocation of proteins between different compartments. Under stress, hsp synthesis is drastically increased, representing a mechanism essential for cell survival. During infection or inflammation, numerous hsp are overexpressed. Not surprisingly, hsp represent dominant antigens in many infectious and autoimmune diseases that induce strong humoral and cellular immune responses. There is substantial evidence that hsp are dominant immune targets in a number of diseases, to the benefit or detriment of man. Nevertheless, findings also exist which argue against a universal role for hsp as target antigens in disease situations. It is suggested that hsp mainly serve as 'early' targets in the immune response, thus providing support for anti-infectious or autoaggressive immune responses directed against unique pathogen- or disease-associated antigens, respectively.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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