HSP70i accelerates depigmentation in a mouse model of autoimmune vitiligo

Cecele J. Denman, James McCracken, Vidhya Hariharan, Jared Klarquist, Kepa Oyarbide-Valencia, José A. Guevara-Patĩo, I. Caroline Le Poole*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Vitiligo is a T-cell-mediated autoimmune disease of the skin. Progressive depigmentation accelerates in response to stress. Personal trauma, contact with bleaching phenols, overexposure to UV, and mechanical injury can lead to progressive loss of melanocytes. This study was focused on the role of stress protein heat shock protein (HSP)70 for translating stress into an autoimmune disease to melanocytes. Intracellular HSP70 can act as a cytoprotectant, preventing apoptosis in cells under stress. Isoform HSP70i can be secreted by live cells, and in prior in vitro studies, HSP70 has been shown to activate dendritic cells and elicit an immune response to chaperoned proteins and peptides. Here, the role of HSP70 in precipitating and perpetuating vitiligo was assessed in vivo in a mouse model of autoimmune vitiligo. In this model, depigmentation was introduced by gene gun vaccination with eukaryotic expression plasmids encoding melanocyte differentiation antigens. Inclusion of human and mouse-derived inducible HSP70 in the vaccination protocol significantly increased and accelerated depigmentation in this model, accompanied by the induction of prolonged humoral responses to HSP70. Cytotoxicity toward targets loaded with a K(b)-restricted tyrosinase-related protein 2-derived peptide correlated with depigmentation. The data presented strongly support a role for HSP70i in progressive depigmentation in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2041-2048
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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