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Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2004 Aug;30(3):627-37, xi.

HMGB1 as a mediator of necrosis-induced inflammation and a therapeutic target in arthritis.

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Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska Institutet, Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


For the second time in recent history, studies directed at the pathogenesis of infectious disease have led to the identification of an endogenous mediator of arthritis. HMGB1, a 30-kD nuclear and cytoplasmic protein widely studied as a DNA-binding protein, is a newly described cytokine and a necessary and sufficient mediator of lethal sepsis. HMGB1 is passively released during cell necrosis, but not apoptosis; it activates an inflammatory response to necrosis,but not apoptosis. Furthermore, HMGB1 can also be actively secreted by stimulated macrophages or monocytes in a process that requires acetylation of the molecule, enabling a translocation from the nucleus to secretory lysosomes. Recent evidence indicates that HMGB1 is a mediator of arthritis because of the following: (1) it is produced at the site of joint inflammation, (2) it causes the development of arthritis when applied to normal joints, and (3) therapies that inhibit HMGB1 prevent the progression of collagen-induced arthritis in rodents. Anti-HMGB1 may be studied in future clinical trials of diseases of excessive production of HMGB1, such as severe sepsis and arthritis.

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