High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein acts as a DNA chaperone for nuclear homeostasis. It translocates into the cytosol and is secreted into extracellular spaces, triggering proinflammatory cytokines and acting as a mediator in fibrosis. We determined whether HMGB1 plays a role in normal dermal fibrosis and keloid, and is involved with transforming growth factor β. We investigated the translocation and active release of HMGB1 from normal dermal fibroblasts under lipopolysaccharide stimuli, and the redistribution of nuclear HMGB1 into the cytoplasm of keloid fibroblasts. HMGB1 and its effector toll-like receptors and receptors for advanced glycation end product proteins are actively expressed in keloid tissues. Exogenous HMGB1 can induce the proliferation of human dermal fibroblasts, and could act as a profibrogenic molecule to produce collagen, decrease MMP-1, and increase TIMP-1 mRNA expression. Moreover, administration of HMGB1 increased the expression level of TGF-β1 and internal signaling molecules, such as Smad 2 and 3, phosphorylated Smad 2/3 complex, Erk 1/2, Akt, and NF-κB. Collectively, we demonstrate that HMGB1 treatment increases the expression level of collagen types I and III, elastin, and fibronectin in dermal spheroid cultures, thus making HMGB1 a promising therapeutic target for treatment of profibrogenic diseases.
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