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Circ Res. 2000 Jun 23;86(12):1224-9.

Prevention of hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension by enhancement of endogenous heme oxygenase-1 in the rat.

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Division of Newborn Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

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  • Circ Res 2002 Mar 8;90(4):e66-a.


We investigated the role of heme oxygenase (HO)-1 in the development of hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension. HO catalyzes the breakdown of heme to the antioxidant bilirubin and the vasodilator carbon monoxide. Hypoxia is a potent but transient inducer of HO-1 in vascular smooth muscle cells in vitro and in the lung in vivo. By using agonists of HO-1, we sustained a high expression of HO-1 in the lungs of rats for 1 week. We report that this in vivo enhancement of HO-1 in the lung prevented the development of hypoxic pulmonary hypertension and inhibited the structural remodeling of the pulmonary vessels. The mechanism(s) underlying this effect may involve a direct vasodilating and antiproliferative action of endogenous carbon monoxide, as well as an indirect effect of carbon monoxide on the production of vasoconstrictors. These results provide evidence that enhancement of endogenous adaptive responses may be used to prevent hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension.

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