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J Immunol. 2003 Mar 1;170(5):2340-8.

Human heat shock protein 60 induces maturation of dendritic cells versus a Th1-promoting phenotype.

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German Diabetes Research Institute, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.


Heat shock protein (HSP) 60 nonspecifically activates cells of the innate immune system. In the present study, we characterized the effects of human HSP60 maturation, cytokine release, and T cell-activating capacity of bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (DC). Furthermore, we analyzed HSP60-induced signal transduction in DC. HSP60 strongly stimulated DC for maturation and release of TNF-alpha, IL-12, and IL-1 beta. However, HSP60 elicited only a weak IL-10 response in DC suggesting a Th1 bias. HSP60-treated DC induced proliferation of allogeneic T cells. Again, a Th1 bias was noted in that cocultures of allogeneic T cells and HSP60-treated DC released IFN-gamma but only small amounts of IL-10 and no detectable IL-4. Signaling via Toll-like receptor 4 was involved in HSP60-induced cytokine release and maturation because DC of C3H/HeJ mice with a mutant Toll-like receptor 4 showed deficient response to HSP60. HSP60 was found to rapidly activate the mitogen-activated protein kinases p38, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase as well as I kappa B in DC. Phosphorylation of these signaling molecules was also mediated by LPS, but with much slower kinetics. Thus, HSP60 stimulates DC more rapidly than LPS and elicits a Th1-promoting phenotype. These results suggest that DC play a pivotal role in priming for destructive Th1-type responses at sites of local HSP60 release.

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