, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 281-292,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 03 Dec 2011

A case of mistaken identity: HSPs are no DAMPs but DAMPERs


Until recently, the immune system was seen solely as a defense system with its primary task being the elimination of unwanted microbial invaders. Currently, however, the functional significance of the immune system has obtained a much wider perspective, to include among others the maintenance and restoration of homeostasis following tissue damage. In this latter aspect, there is a growing interest in the identification of molecules involved, such as the so-called danger or damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), also called alarmins. Since heat shock proteins are archetypical molecules produced under stressful conditions, such as tissue damage or inflammation, they are frequently mentioned as prime examples of DAMPs (Bianchi, J Leukoc Biol 81:1–5, 2007; Kono and Rock, Nat Rev Immunol 8:279–289, 2008; Martin-Murphy et al., Toxicol Lett 192:387–394, 2010). See for instance also a recent review (Chen and Nunez, Science 298:1395–1401, 2010). Contrary to this description, we recently presented some of the arguments against a role of heat shock protein as DAMPs (Broere et al., Nat Rev Immunol 11:565-c1, 2011). With this perspective and reflection article, we hope to elaborate on this debate and provide additional thoughts to further ignite this discussion on this critical and evolving issue.