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Antioxid Redox Signal. 2004 Dec;6(6):944-53.

Effects of cell-free hemoglobin on hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1alpha) and heme oxygenase (HO-1) expressions in endothelial cells subjected to hypoxia.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biochemistry and Vascular Biology, Division of Hematology, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


We have investigated the impact of diaspirin cross-linked hemoglobin (DBBF-Hb), a blood substitute, on cell signaling pathways that are modulated in part by biological peroxides (i.e., hydrogen peroxide, lipid peroxide, and peroxynitrite). Bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs) subjected to hypoxia expressed hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1alpha) in a time course that paralleled the expressions of heme oxygenase (HO-1). Co-incubation of the oxy form (HbFe(2+)) with hypoxic BAECs resulted in an increase in the expression of HIF-1alpha in a manner that corresponded linearly with the decay of HbFe(2+) and accumulation of the ferric form (HbFe(3+)). Inclusion of HbFe(3+) with hypoxic BAECs produced twice as much expression in the HIF-1alpha and HO-1 proteins as opposed to HbFe(2+) alone, or HbFe(2+) plus hypoxia. In addition, higher and more persistent levels of the ferryl form (HbFe(4+)), due to the consumption of endogenous peroxides, were found in the hypoxic media containing hemoglobin. Nitric oxide (NO) released from an NO donor reduced the levels of HIF-1alpha in the hypoxic cells treated with either HbFe(2+) or HbFe(3+), but had little or no effect on the levels of HO-1. DBBF-Hb modulates key cell-signaling pathways by competing with peroxides required for the deactivation of HIF-1alpha, which may modulate important physiological mediators.

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