Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Immunol. 2004 Mar 15;172(6):3553-63.

Heme oxygenase-1 modulates the expression of adhesion molecules associated with endothelial cell activation.

Author information

Immunobiology Research Center, Department of Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) cleaves the porphyrin ring of heme into carbon monoxide, Fe2+, and biliverdin, which is then converted into bilirubin. Heme-derived Fe2+ induces the expression of the iron-sequestering protein ferritin and activates the ATPase Fe2+-secreting pump, which decrease intracellular free Fe2+ content. Based on the antioxidant effect of bilirubin and that of decreased free cellular Fe2+, we questioned whether HO-1 would modulate the expression of proinflammatory genes associated with endothelial cell (EC) activation. We tested this hypothesis specifically for the genes E-selectin (CD62), ICAM-1 (CD54), and VCAM-1 (CD106). We found that HO-1 overexpression in EC inhibited TNF-alpha-mediated E-selectin and VCAM-1, but not ICAM-1 expression, as tested at the RNA and protein level. Heme-driven HO-1 expression had similar effects to those of overexpressed HO-1. In addition, HO-1 inhibited the activation of NF-kappaB, a transcription factor required for TNF-alpha-mediated up-regulation of these genes in EC. Bilirubin and/or Fe2+ chelation mimicked the effects of HO-1, whereas biliverdin or carbon monoxide did not. In conclusion, HO-1 inhibits the expression of proinflammatory genes associated with EC activation via a mechanism that is associated with the inhibition of NF-kappaB activation. This effect of HO-1 is mediated by bilirubin and/or by a decrease of free intracellular Fe2+ but probably not by biliverdin or carbon monoxide.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Publication types, MeSH terms, Substances, Grant support

Publication types

MeSH terms


Grant support

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center