Extracellular Hsp72, an endogenous DAMP, is released by virally infected airway epithelial cells and activates neutrophils via Toll-like receptor (TLR)-4

Derek S. Wheeler, Margaret A. Chase, Albert P. Senft, Sue E. Poynter, Hector R. Wong, Kristen Page*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Background: Neutrophils play an important role in the pathophysiology of RSV, though RSV does not appear to directly activate neutrophils in the lower airways. Therefore locally produced cytokines or other molecules released by virally-infected airway epithelial cells are likely responsible for recruiting and activating neutrophils. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are generally regarded as intracellular proteins acting as molecular chaperones; however, HSP72 can also be released from cells, and the implications of this release are not fully understood.Methods: Human bronchial epithelial cells (16HBE14o-) were infected with RSV and Hsp72 levels were measured by Western blot and ELISA. Tracheal aspirates were obtained from critically ill children infected with RSV and analyzed for Hsp72 levels by ELISA. Primary human neutrophils and differentiated HL-60 cells were cultured with Hsp72 and supernatants analyzed for cytokine production. In some cases, cells were pretreated with polymyxin B prior to treatment with Hsp72. IκBα was assessed by Western blot and EMSA's were performed to determine NF-κB activation. HL-60 cells were pretreated with neutralizing antibody against TLR4 prior to Hsp72 treatment. Neutrophils were harvested from the bone marrow of wild type or TLR4-deficient mice prior to treatment with Hsp72.Results: Infection of 16HBE14o- with RSV showed an induction of intracellular Hsp72 levels as well as extracellular release of Hsp72. Primary human neutrophils from normal donors and differentiated HL-60 cells treated with increasing concentrations of Hsp72 resulted in increased cytokine (IL-8 and TNFα) production. This effect was independent of the low levels of endotoxin in the Hsp72 preparation. Hsp72 mediated cytokine production via activation of NF-κB translocation and DNA binding. Using bone marrow-derived neutrophils from wild type and TLR4-mutant mice, we showed that Hsp72 directly activates neutrophil-derived cytokine production via the activation of TLR4.Conclusion: Collectively these data suggest that extracellular Hsp72 is released from virally infected airway epithelial cells resulting in the recruitment and activation of neutrophils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31
JournalRespiratory Research
StatePublished - Apr 30 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Extracellular Hsp72, an endogenous DAMP, is released by virally infected airway epithelial cells and activates neutrophils via Toll-like receptor (TLR)-4'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this