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Fiziol Zh. 2002;48(5):79-92.

[Heme oxygenase and carbon monoxide: the protection or the injury of cells?].

[Article in Ukrainian]

Author information

A.A. Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiyv.


Heme oxygenase (HO) catalyzes the conversion of heme to carbon monoxide, iron, and biliverdin, which is immediately reduced to bilirubin. Three HO active isozymes exist: HO-1, an inducible heat shock protein (HSP32), and HO-2 and HO-3, which are constitutive and highly concentrated in neurons, spleen and liver. Heme oxygenase-1 is an inducible enzyme that catalyzes heme degradation and has been proposed to play a role in protecting cells against oxidative stress-related injury. The mechanism(s) of protection is not completely elucidated, although it is suggested that one or more of the catalytic by-products provide antioxidant functions either directly or indirectly. The role played by heme oxygenase in tissue pathology is determined by a delicate balance between the injurious and protective actions of heme, bilirubin, CO, and Fe2+. Authors review the functional role of HO and its derivates in cells biology and its real potential application to pathological conditions.

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