Background: Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are predominant molecular chaperones which are
actively involved in the protein folding; which is essential in protecting the structure and functioning
of proteins during various stress conditions. Though HSPs have important physiological roles, they
have been well known for their roles in various pathogenic conditions such as carcinogenesis; however,
limited literature has consolidated its potential as an anti-metastatic drug target.
Objectives: The present review outlines the role of different HSPs on cancer progression and metastasis;
possible role of HSP inhibitors as anti-neoplastic agents is also discussed.
Methods: The data were collected from PubMed/Medline and other reputed journal databases. The literature
that was too old and had no significant role to the review was then omitted.
Results: Despite their strong physiological functions, HSPs are considered as good markers for cancer
prognosis and diagnosis. They have control over survival, proliferation and progression events of cancer
including drug resistance, metastasis, and angiogenesis. Since, neoplastic cells are more dependent
on HSPs for survival and proliferation, the selectivity and specificity of HSP-targeted cancer drugs
remain high. This has made various HSPs potential clinical and experimental targets for cancer prevention.
An array of HSP inhibitors has been in trials and many others are in experimental conditions
as anticancer and anti-metastatic agents. Several natural products are also being investigated for their
efficacy for anticancer and anti-metastatic agents by modulating HSPs.
Conclusion: Apart from their role as an anticancer drug target, HSPs have shown to be promising targets
for the prevention of cancer progression. Extensive studies are required for the use of these molecules
as anti-metastatic agents. Further studies in this line may yield specific and effective antimetastatic