Heat shock proteins exert their beneficial effects via basically two modes of action depending on their relative location within the host. Intracellular heat shock proteins found within cells serve a cytoprotective role by chaperoning naïve, misfolded and/or denatured proteins in response to stressful stimuli by a process known as the stress response. However, stressful stimuli also induce the release of intracellular heat shock proteins into the extracellular milieu and circulation. The extracellular heat shock protein serve a cytostimulatory role by initiating immune responses designed to fend off microbial infection and destroy neoplastic transformed cells. This review will briefly cover recent advances into elucidating the mechanism(s) by which stress induces the release of heat shock proteins into the circulation, how it initiates immune responses and suggest the possible biological significance of circulating Hsp to the host.
Keywords: Cancer, chaperokine, heat shock proteins, inflammation, receptors, signal transduction
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