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Heat Shock Protein 70 as a Biomarker of Heat Stress in a Simulated Hot Cockpit

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Kumar Y, Chawla A, Tatu U. Heat shock protein 70 as a biomarker of heat stress in a simulated hot cockpit. Aviat Space Environ Med 2003; 74:711–6

Background: Fighter pilots are frequently exposed to high temperatures during high-speed low-level flight. Heat strain can result in temporary impairment of cognitive functions and when severe, loss of consciousness and consequent loss of life and equipment. Induction of stress proteins is a highly conserved stress response mechanism from bacteria to humans. Induced stress protein levels are known to be cytoprotective and have been correlated with stress tolerance. Although many studies on the heat shock response mechanisms have been performed in cell culture and animal model systems, there is very limited information on stress protein induction in human subjects. Hypothesis: Heat shock proteins (Hsp), especially Hsp70, may be induced in human subjects exposed to high temperatures in a hot cockpit designed to simulate heat stress experienced in low flying sorties. Methods: Six healthy volunteers were subjected to heat stress at 55°C in a high temperature cockpit simulator for a period of 1 h at 30% humidity. Physiological parameters such as oral and skin temperatures, heart rate, and sweat rate were monitored regularly during this time. The level of Hsp70 in leukocytes was examined before and after the heat exposure in each subject. Conclusions: Hsp70 was found to be significantly induced in all the six subjects exposed to heat stress. The level of induced Hsp70 appears to correlate with other strain indicators such as accumulative circulatory strain and Craig’s modified index. The usefulness of Hsp70 as a molecular marker of heat stress in humans is discussed.

Keywords: Hsp70; aviation; heat shock

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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