Heme oxygenase-1 is a cGMP-inducible endothelial protein and mediates the cytoprotective action of nitric oxide

Tobias Polte, Aida Abate, Phyllis A. Dennery, Henning Schröder

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123 Scopus citations


Inducible heme oxygenase (HO-1) has recently been recognized as an antioxidant and cytoprotective gene. By use of Western blotting, cell viability analysis, and antisense technique, the present study investigates the involvement of HO-1 in endothelial protection induced by the clinically used nitric oxide (NO) donor molsidomine (specifically, its active metabolite 3-morpholinosydnonimine [SIN-1]) and the second messenger cGMP. In bovine pulmonary artery endothelial cells, SIN-1 and S-nitroso-N-acetyl-D,L- penicillamine (SNAP) at 1 to 100 μmol/L induced the synthesis of HO-1 protein in a concentration-dependent fashion up to 3-fold over basal levels. HO-1 induction by SIN-1 was inhibited in the presence of the NO scavenger phenyl-4,4,5,5,-tetramethylimidazoline-1-oxyl-3-oxide and the soluble guanylyl cyclase inhibitor 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazole[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one. 8- Bromo-cGMP (1 to 100 μmol/L) and dibutyryl cGMP (1 to 100 μmol/L) as well as the activator of particulate guanylyl cyclase atrial natriuretic peptide (1 to 100 nmol/L) produced increases in HO-1 protein similar to those produced by SIN-1. SIN-1 and 8-bromo-cGMP increased heme oxygenase activity (bilirubin formation). Cytoprotection by NO donors was abrogated in the presence of the heme oxygenase inhibitor tin protoporphyrin IX. Pretreatment of cells with a phosphorothioate-linked HO-1 antisense oligonucleotide prevented protection by SIN-1 or 8-bromo-cGMP against tumor necrosis factor- α cytotoxicity, whereas sense and scrambled HO-1 were without effect under these conditions. Our results show for the first time that HO-1 is a cGMP- sensitive endothelial gene and establish conclusively a causal relationship between HO-1 induction and endothelial protection by the NO/cGMP system. By targeting cytoprotective HO-1, NO donors may therefore be expected to induce antioxidant, antiatherogenic, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1215
Number of pages7
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2000


  • CGMP
  • Cytoprotection
  • Endothelial cells
  • Heme oxygenase-1
  • Nitric oxide


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