Hsp72 induces inflammation and regulates cytokine production in airway epithelium through a TLR4- and NF-κB-dependent mechanism

Margaret A. Chase, Derek S. Wheeler, Kristin M. Lierl, Valerie S. Hughes, Hector R. Wong, Kristen Page*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Heat shock proteins are generally regarded as intracellular proteins acting as molecular chaperones; however, Hsp72 is also detected in the extracellular compartment. Hsp72 has been identified in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of patients with acute lung injury. To address whether Hsp72 directly activated airway epithelium, human bronchial epithelial cells (16HBE14o-) were treated with recombinant Hsp72. Hsp72 induced a dose-dependent increase in IL-8 expression, which was inhibited by the NF-κB inhibitor parthenolide. Hsp72 induced activation of NF-κB, as evidenced by NF-κB trans-activation and by p65 RelA and p50 NF-κB1 binding to DNA. Endotoxin contamination of the Hsp72 preparation was not responsible for these effects. Next, BALB/c mice were challenged with a single intratracheal inhalation of Hsp72 and killed 4 h later. Hsp72 induced significant up-regulation of KC, TNF-α, neutrophil recruitment, and myeloperoxidase in the BALF. A similar challenge with Hsp72 in TLR4 mutant mice did not stimulate the inflammatory response, stressing the importance of TLR4 in Hsp72-mediated lung inflammation. Last, cultured mouse tracheal epithelial cells (MTEC) from BALB/c and TLR4 mutant and wild-type mice were treated ex vivo with Hsp72. Hsp72 induced a significant increase in KC expression from BALB/c and wild-type MTEC in an NF-κB-dependent manner; however, TLR4 mutant MTEC had minimal cytokine release. Taken together, these data suggest that Hsp72 is released and biologically active in the BALF and can regulate airway epithelial cell cytokine expression in a TLR4 and NF-κB-dependent mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6318-6324
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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