Molecular Medicine

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 158–163 | Cite as

The Expression of HMGB1 on Microparticles Released during Cell Activation and Cell Death In Vitro and In Vivo

  • David S. Pisetsky
Review Article


High mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) is a nonhistone nuclear protein that is a prototypic alarmin that can stimulate innate immunity and drive the pathogenesis of a wide range of inflammatory diseases. While HMGB1 can be released from both activated and dying cells, its biochemical and immunological properties differ depending on the release mechanism, resulting from redox changes and posttranslational modifications including acetylation. In addition to release of HMGB1, cell death is associated with the release of microparticles. Microparticles are small membrane-bound vesicles that contain cytoplasmic, nuclear and membrane components. Like HMGB1, microparticles display immunological activity and levels are elevated in diseases characterized by inflammation and vasculopathy. While studies have addressed the immunological effects of HMGB1 and microparticles independently, HMGB1, like other nuclear molecules, is a component of microparticles. Evidence for the physical association of HMGB1 comes from Western blot analysis of microparticles derived from RAW 264.7 macrophage cells stimulated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or induced to undergo apoptosis by treatment with etoposide or staurosporine in vitro. Analysis of microparticles in the blood of healthy volunteers receiving LPS shows the presence of HMGB1 as assessed by flow cytometry. Together, these findings indicate that HMGB1 can be a component of microparticles and may contribute to their activities. Furthermore, particle HMGB1 may represent a useful biomarker for in vivo events that may not be reflected by measurement of the total amount of HMGB1 in the blood.



This work was supported by a VA Merit Review Grant, a grant from Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR), and NIH 5U19-AI056363.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • David S. Pisetsky
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Duke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Medical Research ServiceDurham Veterans Administration Medical CenterDurhamUSA

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