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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1996 Mar;74(3):278-85.

Characterization of porphyrin heme oxygenase inhibitors.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University Medical Center, CA 94305, USA.


Synthetic metalloporphyrin derivatives of heme have been identified as competitive inhibitors of heme oxygenase, the rate-limiting enzyme in the heme degradation pathway that produces equimolar quantities of carbon monoxide, biliverdin, and bilirubin. Therefore, administration of metalloporphyrin has been proposed as one means to prevent excessive hyperbilirubinemia in human neonates. Tin proto- and meso-porphyrin have been studied for the suppression of neonatal jaundice. However, these compounds are also photosensitizers. This property may limit the clinical use of these compounds, particularly in infants being exposed simultaneously to phototherapy. Via measurements of carbon monoxide, we have studied the photooxidative, metabolic, and inhibitory characteristics of metalloporphyrins that have not yet been studied for this purpose: deuteroporphyrin bisglycol (DBG), iron deuteroporphyrin bisglycol (FeBG), tin deuteroporphyrin bisglycol (SnBG),tin deuteroporphyrin (SnDP), chromium deuteroporphyrin (CrDP), and zinc deuteroporphyrin (ZnDP). Of the six compounds, SnDP, SnBG, and DBG were significantly photoreactive in vitro. Furthermore, in vitro measurements of brain, liver, and spleen heme oxygenase activity inhibition indicated that, of the nonphotoreactive compounds, CrDP and ZnDP were the most potent inhibitors. Only FeBG served as a substrate for the heme oxygenase reaction. The concentration for 50% inhibition with the three tissues ranged from 0.6 to 1.3 microM for CrDP and from 11.0 to 13.5 microM for ZnDP. When 25 mumol CrDP and 50 mumol ZnDP per kilogram body weight were administered to rats given a heme load of 30 mumol/kg body weight, the total body carbon monoxide excretion due to the administered heme load was reduced by 46 and 32%, respectively, at t = 7.5 h, when the experiment was terminated in order to measure heme oxygenase activity. Brain heme oxygenase activity was not affected by the metalloporphyrin treatment. However, both CrDP and ZnDP inhibited liver tissue heme oxygenase activity to 5 and 20%, respectively, whereas only CrDP inhibited spleen tissue heme oxygenase, to 7% of untreated control. Thus, CrDP appears to be the most attractive of the six compounds and deserves further study.

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