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Diet and the Anti-inflammatory Effect of Heat Shock Proteins

[ Vol. 15 , Issue. 1 ]


Willem van Eden   Pages 31 - 36 ( 6 )


Stress proteins or heat shock proteins (HSPs) have a critical role in gut health and immune regulation. They have a functional significance as molecular chaperones for cell skeleton proteins and intercellular tight junction proteins. Herewith HSPs ensure gut epithelium integrity and effective intestinal barrier function. In addition, stress protein molecules such as HSP70 are a target for anti-inflammatory regulatory T cells (Tregs). Inflamed sites in the body feature inflammatory-stress induced enhanced levels of HSPs, which enable the immune system to target Tregs selectively to sites of inflammation. We have shown in experimental models of inflammatory diseases that both microbial HSP and endogenous (self) HSP molecules are capable of inducing the expansion of disease suppressive Tregs. Since the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is well poised towards the induction of regulation and tolerance, we set out to promote HSP expression and induction of Tregs in the gut lymphoid tissues by the oral administration of HSP co-inducing compounds. For the identification, selection and characterization of such compounds we have developed assay systems, such as reporter cell-lines, HSP specific T cell hybridomas and a transgenic mouse model (expression a HSP specific T cell receptor). The introduction of HSP coinducers into the diet constitutes a novel food based preventive or possibly even therapeutic approach in inflammatory diseases.


Heat shock protein, inflammation, regulatory T cells, stress protein, T cells.


Dept. Infectious Diseases & Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 1, 3584 CL Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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