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J Immunol. 2004 Jul 1;173(1):307-13.

High mobility group box protein 1: an endogenous signal for dendritic cell maturation and Th1 polarization.

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Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, North Shore-LIJ Research Institute, 350 Community Drive, Manhasset, NY 11030, USA.


High mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1), a DNA binding nuclear and cytosolic protein, is a proinflammatory cytokine released by monocytes and macrophages. This study addressed the hypothesis that HMGB1 is an immunostimulatory signal that induces dendritic cell (DC) maturation. We show that HMGB1, via its B box domain, induced phenotypic maturation of DCs, as evidenced by increased CD83, CD54, CD80, CD40, CD58, and MHC class II expression and decreased CD206 expression. The B box caused increased secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-12, IL-6, IL-1alpha, IL-8, TNF-alpha, and RANTES. B box up-regulated CD83 expression as well as IL-6 secretion via a p38 MAPK-dependent pathway. In the MLR, B box-activated DCs acted as potent stimulators of allogeneic T cells, and the magnitude of the response was equivalent to DCs activated by exposure to LPS, nonmethylated CpG oligonucleotides, or CD40L. Furthermore, B box induced secretion of IL-12 from DCs as well as IL-2 and IFN-gamma secretion from allogeneic T cells, suggesting a Th1 bias. HMGB1 released by necrotic cells may be a signal of tissue or cellular injury that, when sensed by DCs, induces and/or enhances an immune reaction.

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