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J Leukoc Biol. 2000 Mar;67(3):357-68.

Effects of heme proteins on nitric oxide levels and cell viability in isolated PMNs: a mechanism of toxicity.

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  • 1Biochemistry Branch, US Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234-6315, USA. RICHARD.CASSIDY@CEN.AMEDD.ARMY.MIL


Isolated human PMNs served as a model to determine oxyhemoglobin (oxyHb) binding and the effects of oxymyoglobin (oxyMb) or oxyHb on production of both nitric oxide (NO*) and superoxide (O2*-) and the resulting cytotoxicity. Physiologically relevant concentrations of NO* and H2O2 oxidized, to a similar extent, 2,7-dichlorodihydrofluorescein (DCFH) loaded into polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs). Activation of PMNs with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) markedly increased the internalization of extracellular oxyHb (10-250 microg/mL). OxyMb (10-300 microg/mL) or oxyHb (30-300 microg/mL) enhanced DCFH oxidation by a concentration-dependent mechanism in unstimulated, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha)-, and PMA-stimulated PMNs. This increased DCFH oxidation was eliminated by NO* synthase inhibitors, glutathione and ascorbate, and was reduced by albumin. Nitrite accumulation in PMN filtrates mirrored NO*-induced DCF fluorescence. OxyMb-induced increases in NO* levels paralleled alterations in DNA and cell membrane damage and ATP levels in PMNs and co-cultured lymphocytes, and were attenuated by NO* synthase inhibitors. OxyMb eliminated extracellular O2*- at protein concentrations 100- to 1000-fold above those of superoxide dismutase. These results suggest that heme proteins bind and internalize into PMNs and increase NO*-induced damage in neighboring cells by inhibiting O2*(-)-scavenging of NO*. We propose a mechanism whereby heme protein-induced NO* levels may contribute to immunosuppression and increased infection rates associated with transfusions and cellular damage during inflammation.

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