© Copyright © 2020 Yang, Wang and Andersson. High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is a highly conserved, nuclear protein present in all cell types. It is a multi-facet protein exerting functions both inside and outside of cells. Extracellular HMGB1 has been extensively studied for its prototypical alarmin functions activating innate immunity, after being actively released from cells or passively released upon cell death. TLR4 and RAGE operate as the main HMGB1 receptors. Disulfide HMGB1 activates the TLR4 complex by binding to MD-2. The binding site is separate from that of LPS and it is now feasible to specifically interrupt HMGB1/TLR4 activation without compromising protective LPS/TLR4-dependent functions. Another important therapeutic strategy is established on the administration of HMGB1 antagonists precluding RAGE-mediated endocytosis of HMGB1 and HMGB1-bound molecules capable of activating intracellular cognate receptors. Here we summarize the role of HMGB1 in inflammation, with a focus on recent findings on its mission as a damage-associated molecular pattern molecule and as a therapeutic target in inflammatory diseases. Recently generated HMGB1-specific inhibitors for treatment of inflammatory conditions are discussed.
School of Medicine