Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are a highly conserved group of proteins that are constitutively expressed and function as molecular chaperones, aiding in protein folding and preventing the accumulation of misfolded proteins. In the arterial wall, HSPs have a protective role under normal physiologic conditions. In disease states, however, HSPs expressed on the vascular endothelial cell surface can act as targets for detrimental autoimmunity due to their highly conserved sequences. Developing therapeutic strategies for atherosclerosis based on HSPs is challenged by the need to balance such physiologic and pathologic roles of these proteins. This paper summarizes the role of HSPs in normal vascular wall processes as well as in the development and progression of atherosclerosis. The potential implications of HSPs in clinical therapies for atherosclerosis are also discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)