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Autoimmune Diseases
Volume 2012, Article ID 502813, 9 pages
Review Article

Heat Shock Proteins: Pathogenic Role in Atherosclerosis and Potential Therapeutic Implications

Division of Cardiac Surgery, Department of Surgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA

Received 15 June 2012; Revised 15 September 2012; Accepted 24 September 2012

Academic Editor: Boel De Paepe

Copyright © 2012 Arman Kilic and Kaushik Mandal. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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.