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Brain Res. 2000 Nov 3;882(1-2):1-8.

Heme oxygenase (HO)-1 expressing macrophages/microglial cells accumulate during oligodendroglioma progression.

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  • 1Institute of Brain Research, University of Tuebingen, Medical School, Calwer Strasse 3, D-72076, Tuebingen, Germany.


Heme oxygenase (HO-1, HSP32) catalyzes the oxidation of heme to biliverdin and carbon monoxide, a putative neurotransmitter. In the brain, HO-1 expression has been associated with neuroprotection during oxidative stress and hypoxia. However, consecutive downstream mediation is involved in neoangiogenesis and consequent neoplastic outgrowth. We have analyzed HO-1 expression in 69 oligodendroglioma tissue samples, in rat intracranially transplanted C6 gliomas, and neuropathologically unaltered control brains by immunohistochemistry. Double labeling experiments confirmed the nature of HO-1 expressing cells. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was used to demonstrate HO-1 gene expression. HO-1 immunoreactivity was predominantly observed in macrophages/microglial cells. The number of HO-1 expressing macrophages/microglial cells was significantly lower in primary oligodendrogliomas than in their matched relapses (P<0.0001) and lower in primary anaplastic oligodendrogliomas than in their relapses (P=0.0006). Prominent accumulation of HO-1 expressing macrophages/microglial cells was observed in perinecrotic areas of both experimental rat and human glioblastoma relapses. HO-1 expressing neurons, macrophages/microglial cells and astrocytes were scattered in areas of infiltrative tumor growth. Surprisingly, HO-1 mRNA was detected in only one glioblastoma multiforme relapse. We conclude from these data that HO-1 expressing macrophages/microglial cells accumulate during oligodendroglioma progression in areas of focal necrosis. However, overall biological function of this phenomenon remains to be determined.

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