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Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs): A Novel Target for Cancer Metastasis Prevention


Vinayak Narayanankutty , Arunaksharan Narayanankutty* and Anusree Nair   Pages 1 - 11 ( 11 )


Background: Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are predominant molecular chaperone which is actively involved in the protein folding; which is essential in protecting the structure and functioning of proteins during various stress conditions. Though HSPs have important physiological roles, they have been well known for their roles in various pathogenic conditions such as carcinogenesis; however, limited literature has consolidated its potential as an anti-metastatic drug target.

Objectives: The present review outlines the role of different HSPs on cancer progression and metastasis; possible role of HSP inhibitors as anti-neoplastic agents are also discussed.

Methods: The data was collected from PubMed/Medline and other reputed journal databases. The literature that is too old and has no significant role to the review has been then omitted.

Results: Despite their strong physiological functions, HSPs are considered as good markers for cancer prognosis and diagnosis. They have controls survival, proliferation and progression events of cancer including drug resistance, metastasis, and angiogenesis. Since neoplastic cells are more dependent on HSPs for survival and proliferation, the selectivity and specificity of HSP-targeted cancer drugs remain high. This has made various HSPs are potential clinical and experimental target for cancer prevention. An array of HSP inhibitors has been in trials and many others are in experimental conditions as anticancer and anti-metastatic agents. Several natural products are also being investigated for their efficacy for anticancer and anti-metastatic agents by modulating HSPs.

Conclusion: Apart from their role as an anticancer drug target, HSPs have shown to be promising targets for the prevention of cancer progression. There need extensive studies for the use of these molecules as anti-metastatic agents. Further studies in this line may yield specific and effective anti-metastatic agents.


Heat shock proteins, cancer, metastasis, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, HSP inhibitors, natural products


Government Medical College, Manjeri, Malappuram, Kerala, Postgraduate & Research Department of Zoology, St. Joseph’s College, Devagiri (Autonomous), Calicut, Kerala- 673 008, Scientific Officer in charge, Cell and Tissue Culture Department, Micro labs, Bangalore

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