Proteasome inhibitors induce heat shock response and increase IL-6 expression in human intestinal epithelial cells

Timothy A. Pritts, Eric S. Hungness, Dan D. Hershko, Bruce W. Robb, Xiaoyan Sun, Guang Ju Luo, Josef E. Fischer, Hector R. Wong, Per Olof Hasselgren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


In previous studies, the heat shock response, induced by hyperthermia or sodium arsenite, increased interleukin (IL)-6 production in intestinal mucosa and cultured human enterocytes. A novel way to induce the heat shock response, documented in other cell types, is treatment with proteasome inhibitors. It is not known if proteasome inhibition induces heat shock in enterocytes or influences IL-6 production. Here we tested the hypothesis that treatment of cultured Caco-2 cells, a human intestinal epithelial cell line, with proteasome inhibitors induces the heat shock response and stimulates IL-6 production. Treatment of Caco-2 cells with one of the proteasome inhibitors MG-132 or lactacystin activated the transcription factor heat shock factors (HSF)-1 and -2 and upregulated cellular levels of the 72-kDa heat shock protein HSP-72. The same treatment resulted in increased gene and protein expression of IL-6, a response that was blocked by quercetin. Additional experiments revealed that the IL-6 gene promoter contains a HSF-responsive element and that the IL-6 gene may be regulated by the heat shock response. The present results suggest that proteasome inhibition induces heat shock response and IL-6 production in enterocytes and that IL-6 may be a heat shock-responsive gene, at least under certain circumstances. The observations are important considering the multiple biological roles of IL-6, both locally in the gut mucosa and systemically, and considering recent proposals in the literature to use proteasome inhibitors in the clinical setting to induce the heat shock response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1016-R1026
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4 51-4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Cytokine
  • Enterocyte
  • Intestine
  • Mucosa
  • Stress response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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