Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. There is growing evidence that molecular chaperones, many of which are heat shock proteins HSPs, are involved in CVD pathogenesis. In this review we focus on HSP60, the human mitochondrial chaperone that also displays extramitochondrial and extracellular functions. HSP60 is typically cytoprotective but a number of stress conditions determine its conversion to a potentially toxic molecule for cells and tissues. We present illustrative examples of specific subtypes of CVD where HSP60 is implicated in the initiation and/or progression of disease. The data not only indicate a pathogenic role for HSP60 but also its potential as a biomarker with applications for diagnosis, assessing prognosis and response to treatment, as well as for preventing and treating CVD.
Keywords: Chaperonin, heat shock protein 60, cardiomyocytes, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, apoptosis, microRNAs (miRs), diabetes, Atrial fibrillation
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