Open Access
Protective role of heme oxygenase-1 against inflammation in atherosclerosis
William Durante1
Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA.
DOI: 10.2741/3860 Volume 16 Issue 6, pp.2372-2388
Published: 01 June 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue CREG promotes vasculogenesis by activation of VEGFPI3KAkt pathway)

Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) catalyzes the first and rate-limiting step in the metabolism of free heme into equimolar amounts of ferrous iron, carbon monoxide (CO), and biliverdin. Biliverdin is subsequently converted to bilirubin by biliverdin reductase. HO-1 has recently been identified as a promising therapeutic target in the treatment of vascular inflammatory disease, including atherosclerosis. HO-1 represses inflammation by removing the pro-inflammatory molecule heme and by generating CO and the bile pigments, biliverdin and bilirubin. These HO-1 reaction products are capable of blocking innate and adaptive immune responses by modifying the activation, differentiation, maturation, and/or polarization of numerous immune cells, including endothelial cells, monocytes/macrophages, dendritic cells, T lymphocytes, mast cells, and platelets. These cellular actions by CO and bile pigments result in diminished leukocyte recruitment and infiltration, and pro-inflammatory mediator production within atherosclerotic lesions. This review highlights the mechanisms by which HO-1 suppresses vascular inflammation in atherosclerosis, and explores possible therapeutic modalities by which HO-1 and its reaction products can be employed to ameliorate vascular inflammatory disease.

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William Durante. Protective role of heme oxygenase-1 against inflammation in atherosclerosis. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark. 2011. 16(6); 2372-2388.