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Nat Med. 2002 Mar;8(3):240-6.

Heme oxygenase-1 mediates the anti-inflammatory effect of interleukin-10 in mice.

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  • 1Graduate Institute of Life Sciences, National Defense Medical Center, and Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.


The mechanisms underlying the action of the potent anti-inflammatory interleukin-10 (IL-10) are poorly understood. Here we show that, in murine macrophages, IL-10 induces expression of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a stress-inducible protein with potential anti-inflammatory effect, via a p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase-dependent pathway. Inhibition of HO-1 protein synthesis or activity significantly reversed the inhibitory effect of IL-10 on production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Additional experiments revealed the involvement of carbon monoxide, one of the products of HO-1-mediated heme degradation, in the anti-inflammatory effect of IL-10 in vitro. Induction of HO-1 by IL-10 was also evident in vivo. IL-10-mediated protection against LPS-induced septic shock in mice was significantly attenuated by cotreatment with the HO inhibitor, zinc protoporphyrin. The identification of HO-1 as a downstream effector of IL-10 provides new possibilities for improved therapeutic approaches for treating inflammatory diseases.

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