Antithrombotic effects of heme-degrading and heme-binding proteins

Karl A. Nath, Joseph P. Grande, John D. Belcher, Vesna D. Garovic, Anthony J. Croatt, Matthew L. Hillestad, Michael A. Barry, Meryl C. Nath, Raymond F. Regan, Gregory M. Vercellotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In the murine venous thrombosis model induced by ligation of the inferior vena cava (IVCL), genetic deficiency of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) increases clot size. This study examined whether induction of HO-1 or administration of its products reduces thrombosis. Venous HO-1 upregulation by gene delivery reduced clot size, as did products of HO activity, biliverdin, and carbon monoxide. Induction of HO-1 by hemin reduced clot formation, clot size, and upregulation of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) that occurs in the IVCL model, while leaving urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) expression unaltered. The reductive effect of hemin on clot size required HO activity. The IVCL model exhibited relatively high concentrations of heme that peaked just before maximum clot size, then declined as clot size decreased. Administration of hemin decreased heme concentration in the IVCL model. HO-2 mRNA was induced twofold in the IVCL model (vs. 40-fold HO-1 induction), but clot size was not increased in HO-2-/- mice compared with HO-2+/+ mice. Hemopexin, the major heme-binding protein, was induced in the IVCL model, and clot size was increased in hemopexin-/- mice compared with hemopexin+/+ mice. We conclude that in the IVCL model, the heme-degrading protein HO-1 and HO products inhibit thrombus formation, as does the heme-binding protein, hemopexin. The reductive effects of hemin administration require HO activity and are mediated, in part, by reducing PAI-1 upregulation in the IVCL model. We speculate that HO-1, HO, and hemopexin reduce clot size by restraining the increase in clot concentration of heme (now recognized as a procoagulant) that otherwise occurs.NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study provides conclusive evidence that two proteins, one heme-degrading and the other heme-binding, inhibit clot formation. This may serve as a new therapeutic strategy in preventing and treating venous thromboembolic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H671-H681
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • bile pigments
  • carbon monoxide
  • heme oxygenase-1
  • hemopexin
  • murine model
  • venous thromboembolic disease

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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