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Pharmacol Rev. 2008 Mar;60(1):79-127. doi: 10.1124/pr.107.07104. Epub 2008 Mar 6.

Pharmacological and clinical aspects of heme oxygenase.

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  • 1New York Medical College, Basic Science Building, Valhalla, NY 10595, USA.

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  • Pharmacol Rev. 2008 Jun;60(2):242.


This review is intended to stimulate interest in the effect of increased expression of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) protein and increased levels of HO activity on normal and pathological states. The HO system includes the heme catabolic pathway, comprising HO and biliverdin reductase, and the products of heme degradation, carbon monoxide (CO), iron, and biliverdin/bilirubin. The role of the HO system in diabetes, inflammation, heart disease, hypertension, neurological disorders, transplantation, endotoxemia and other pathologies is a burgeoning area of research. This review focuses on the clinical potential of increased levels of HO-1 protein and HO activity to ameliorate tissue injury. The use of pharmacological and genetic probes to manipulate HO, leading to new insights into the complex relationship of the HO system with biological and pathological phenomena under investigation, is reviewed. This information is critical in both drug development and the implementation of clinical approaches to moderate and to alleviate the numerous chronic disorders in humans affected by perturbations in the HO system.

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