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Am J Physiol. 1999 Feb;276(2 Pt 2):H766-70.

Presence of hemoglobin inside aortic endothelial cells after cell-free hemoglobin administration in guinea pigs.

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Laboratoire d'Hématologie-Physiologie, Faculté de Pharmacie, Université Henri Poincaré-Nancy 1, F-54001 Nancy Cedex, France.


The endothelium is the production site of several potent vasoactive factors that contribute to the modulation of the vascular tone. Because hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers (HBOC) have been demonstrated to cause vasoconstriction and thereby increase arterial pressure by interacting with endothelium-derived factors such as nitric oxide and endothelin-1, we hypothesized that hemoglobin could penetrate into the endothelial cells. Therefore, we investigated the presence of hemoglobin into guinea pig aortic endothelial cells by immunohistochemical staining after exchange transfusion with a hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier. Despite the large molecular size of HBOC due to chemical modifications designed to prevent hemoglobin subunit dissociation and extravascular leakage, hemoglobin was detectable by immunohistochemical staining into the endothelial cells. These findings suggest that the vascular endothelial cells could uptake hemoglobin by endocytosis mechanisms or could help hemoglobin to cross the endothelial barrier toward media by transcytosis mechanisms. These findings are very important to lead future investigations to the mechanisms by which HBOC cause vasoconstriction.

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