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1.  Protective effect of heme oxygenase induction in ethinylestradiol-induced cholestasis 
Estrogen-induced cholestasis is characterized by impaired hepatic uptake and biliary bile acids secretion because of changes in hepatocyte transporter expression. The induction of heme oxygenase-1 (HMOX1), the inducible isozyme in heme catabolism, is mediated via the Bach1/Nrf2 pathway, and protects livers from toxic, oxidative and inflammatory insults. However, its role in cholestasis remains unknown. Here, we investigated the effects of HMOX1 induction by heme on ethinylestradiol-induced cholestasis and possible underlying mechanisms. Wistar rats were given ethinylestradiol (5 mg/kg s.c.) for 5 days. HMOX1 was induced by heme (15 μmol/kg i.p.) 24 hrs prior to ethinylestradiol. Serum cholestatic markers, hepatocyte and renal membrane transporter expression, and biliary and urinary bile acids excretion were quantified. Ethinylestradiol significantly increased cholestatic markers (P ≤ 0.01), decreased biliary bile acid excretion (39%, P = 0.01), down-regulated hepatocyte transporters (Ntcp/Oatp1b2/Oatp1a4/Mrp2, P ≤ 0.05), and up-regulated Mrp3 (348%, P ≤ 0.05). Heme pre-treatment normalized cholestatic markers, increased biliary bile acid excretion (167%, P ≤ 0.05) and up-regulated hepatocyte transporter expression. Moreover, heme induced Mrp3 expression in control (319%, P ≤ 0.05) and ethinylestradiol-treated rats (512%, P ≤ 0.05). In primary rat hepatocytes, Nrf2 silencing completely abolished heme-induced Mrp3 expression. Additionally, heme significantly increased urinary bile acid clearance via up-regulation (Mrp2/Mrp4) or down-regulation (Mrp3) of renal transporters (P ≤ 0.05). We conclude that HMOX1 induction by heme increases hepatocyte transporter expression, subsequently stimulating bile flow in cholestasis. Also, heme stimulates hepatic Mrp3 expression via a Nrf2-dependent mechanism. Bile acids transported by Mrp3 to the plasma are highly cleared into the urine, resulting in normal plasma bile acid levels. Thus, HMOX1 induction may be a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of ethinylestradiol-induced cholestasis.
PMCID: PMC4420596  PMID: 25683492
17α- ethinylestradiol; heme; nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor-2; bile acids; multidrug resistance-associated protein 3
2.  Heme oxygenase and the immune system in normal and pathological pregnancies 
Normal pregnancy is an immunotolerant state. Many factors, including environmental, socioeconomic, genetic, and immunologic changes by infection and/or other causes of inflammation, may contribute to inter-individual differences resulting in a normal or pathologic pregnancy. In particular, imbalances in the immune system can cause many pregnancy-related diseases, such as infertility, abortions, pre-eclampsia, and preterm labor, which result in maternal/fetal death, prematurity, or small-for-gestational age newborns. New findings imply that myeloid regulatory cells and regulatory T cells (Tregs) may mediate immunotolerance during normal pregnancy. Effector T cells (Teffs) have, in contrast, been implicated to cause adverse pregnancy outcomes. Furthermore, feto-maternal tolerance affects the developing fetus. It has been shown that the Treg/Teff balance affects litter size and adoptive transfer of pregnancy-induced Tregs can prevent fetal rejection in the mouse. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) has a protective role in many conditions through its anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, antioxidative, and anti-proliferative actions. HO-1 is highly expressed in the placenta and plays a role in angiogenesis and placental vascular development and in regulating vascular tone in pregnancy. In addition, HO-1 is a major regulator of immune homeostasis by mediating crosstalk between innate and adaptive immune systems. Moreover, HO-1 can inhibit inflammation-induced phenotypic maturation of immune effector cells and pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion and promote anti-inflammatory cytokine production. HO-1 may also be associated with T-cell activation and can limit immune-based tissue injury by promoting Treg suppression of effector responses. Thus, HO-1 and its byproducts may protect against pregnancy complications by its immunomodulatory effects, and the regulation of HO-1 or its downstream effects has the potential to prevent or treat pregnancy complications and prematurity.
PMCID: PMC4408852  PMID: 25964759
fetus; HO-1; immunomodulation; immunotolerance; newborn; placenta; pregnancy
3.  Effects of Zinc Deuteroporphyrin Bis Glycol on Newborn Mice After Heme-Loading 
Pediatric research  2011;70(5):467-472.
Infants with hemolytic diseases frequently develop hyperbilirubinemia, but standard phototherapy only eliminates bilirubin after its production. A better strategy might be to directly inhibit heme oxygenase (HO), the rate-limiting enzyme in bilirubin production. Metalloporphyrins (Mps) are heme analogs that competitively inhibit HO activity in vitro and in vivo and suppress plasma bilirubin levels in vivo. A promising Mp, zinc deuteroporphyrin bis glycol (ZnBG), is orally absorbed and effectively inhibits HO activity at relatively low doses. We determined the I50 (the dose needed to inhibit HO activity by 50%) of orally administered ZnBG in vivo and then evaluated ZnBG’s effects on in vivo bilirubin production, HO activity, HO protein levels, and HO-1 gene expression in newborn mice following heme-loading, a model analogous to a hemolytic infant. The I50 of ZnBG was found to be 4.0 μmol/kg body weight (BW). At a dose of 15-μmol/kg BW, ZnBG reduced in vivo bilirubin production, inhibited heme-induced liver HO activity and spleen HO activity to and below baseline, respectively, transiently induced liver and spleen HO-1 gene transcription, and induced liver and spleen HO-1 protein levels. We conclude that ZnBG may be an attractive compound for treating severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia caused by hemolytic disease.
PMCID: PMC3189293  PMID: 21785387
4.  Metalloporphyrins – An Update 
Metalloporphyrins are structural analogs of heme and their potential use in the management of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia has been the subject of considerable research for more than three decades. The pharmacological basis for using this class of compounds to control bilirubin levels is the targeted blockade of bilirubin production through the competitive inhibition of heme oxygenase (HO), the rate-limiting enzyme in the bilirubin production pathway. Ongoing research continues in the pursuit of identifying ideal metalloporphyrins, which are safe and effective, by defining therapeutic windows and targeted interventions for the treatment of excessive neonatal hyperbilirubinemia.
PMCID: PMC3337460  PMID: 22557967
bilirubin; heme oxygenase; hemolysis; neonatal hyperbilirubinemia
5.  Heme oxygenase-1 in pregnancy and cancer: similarities in cellular invasion, cytoprotection, angiogenesis, and immunomodulation 
Pregnancy can be defined as a “permissible” process, where a semi-allogeneic fetus and placenta are allowed to grow and survive within the mother. Similarly, in tumor growth, antigen-specific malignant cells proliferate and evade into normal tissues of the host. The microenvironments of the placenta and tumors are amazingly comparable, sharing similar mechanisms exploited by fetal or cancer cells with regard to surviving in a hypoxic microenvironment, invading tissues via degradation and vasculogenesis, and escaping host attack through immune privilege. Heme oxygease-1 (HO-1) is a stress-response protein that has antioxidative, anti-apoptotic, pro-angiogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Although a large volume of research has been published in recent years investigating the possible role(s) of HO-1 in pregnancy and in cancer development, the molecular mechanisms that regulate these “yin-yang” processes have still not been fully elucidated. Here, we summarize and compare pregnancy and cancer development, focusing primarily on the function of HO-1 in cellular invasion, cytoprotection, angiogenesis, and immunomodulation. Due to the similarities of both processes, a thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms of each process may reveal and guide the development of new approaches to prevent not only pregnancy disorders; but also, to study cancer.
PMCID: PMC4294126  PMID: 25642189
Placenta; trophoblast invasion; angiogenesis;  immunosuppression; tolerogenic dendritic cells (tDC); alternatively activated macrophage (M2)
6.  Dermal Carbon Monoxide (CO) Excretion in Neonatal Rats During Light Exposure 
Pediatric research  2009;66(1):66-69.
Total body, head, and trunk carbon monoxide (CO) excretion rates were measured separately by gas chromatography in 1–7 day-old Wistar rat pups exposed to the dark and to mixed blue (1 Special Blue – F20T12/BB) and white (2 Cool White – F20T12/CW) fluorescent light or blue light-emitting diode (LED) sources. During 48-min cycled exposures to the dark and to either light source, total body CO excretion rapidly increased 1.9- and 1.4-fold, respectively, over dark control levels. When CO excretion rates from the head and trunk were measured separately during exposure to either light source, CO excretion from the head did not change significantly; however, a large mean 4.4-fold increase in CO excretion from the trunk was observed. When light intensity delivered by the blue LED source was varied, we found that trunk CO excretion increased with increasing light intensities. In the presence of riboflavin (10 µmol/kg), total body CO excretion increased 2.8- and 2.1-fold during exposure to the mixed fluorescent light and blue LED sources, respectively. We conclude that light-induced elevations in total body CO excretion may be caused by transdermally-excreted CO, which is most likely produced through endogenous photosensitizer-mediated photo-oxidation of dermal biomolecules.
PMCID: PMC2714864  PMID: 19342986
7.  Molecular mechanism and functional consequences of lansoprazole-mediated heme oxygenase-1 induction 
AIM: To investigate the molecular mechanism and functional consequences of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) activation by lansoprazole in endothelial cells and macrophages.
METHODS: Expression of HO-1 mRNA was analyzed by Northern blotting. Western blotting was used to determine the HO-1 and ferritin protein levels. NADPH-dependent reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation was measured with lucigenin-enhanced chemiluminescence. HO-1 promoter activity in mouse fibroblasts, stably transfected with a 15-kb HO-1 gene that drives expression of the reporter gene luciferase, was assessed using in vivo bioluminescence imaging.
RESULTS: Lansoprazole increased HO-1 mRNA levels in endothelial cells and HO-1 protein levels in macrophages. In addition, lansoprazole-induced ferritin protein levels in both cell systems. Moreover, induction of the antioxidant proteins HO-1 and ferritin by lansoprazole was followed by a decrease in NADPH-mediated ROS formation. The radical scavenging properties of lansoprazole were diminished in the presence of the HO inhibitor, chromium mesoporphyrin IX. Induction of HO-1 gene expression by lansoprazole was not related to oxidative stress or to the activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. However, the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor LY294002 showed a concentration-dependent inhibition of HO-1 mRNA and promoter activity.
CONCLUSION: Activation of HO-1 and ferritin may account for the gastric protection of lansoprazole and is dependent on a pathway blocked by LY294002.
PMCID: PMC2747059  PMID: 19764090
Antioxidants; Ferritin; Heme oxygenase-1; Lansoprazole; Reactive oxygen species
8.  Raltegravir In Vitro Effect on Bilirubin Binding 
The Pediatric infectious disease journal  2013;32(9):10.1097/INF.0b013e31829044a8.
Drugs that displace bilirubin from albumin may increase the risk of kernicterus in neonates. We evaluated the effect of raltegravir on bilirubin-albumin binding in pooled neonatal serum using the peroxidase method. Raltegravir had minimal effect on bilirubin-albumin binding at concentrations of 5 and 10 μM, caused a small but statistically significant increase in unbound bilirubin at 100 μM, and caused potentially harmful increases at 500 and 1000 μM. Our data suggest that the effect of raltegravir on neonatal bilirubin binding is unlikely to be clinically significant at typical peak concentrations reached with usual dosing.
PMCID: PMC3856729  PMID: 23470680
raltegravir; bilirubin binding; neonate
9.  The Role of Bach1 in the Induction of Heme Oxygenase by Tin Mesoporphyrin 
Tin mesoporphyrin (SnMP), a competitive heme oxygenase (HO) inhibitor, also induces HO-1 mRNA and protein expression by a mechanism that is not fully understood. We examined whether the induction by SnMP is mediated by a de-repression of Bach1, a transcription factor that suppresses the HO-1 gene. Incubation of NIH3T3-HO-1-luc cells with SnMP attenuated HO activity with a concomitant increase in HO-1 mRNA and protein and a decrease in Bach1 and HO-2 proteins, which was not due to transcriptional down-regulation, but accelerated protein decay. Similarly, HO-1 protein degradation was increased by SnMP, despite of an elevation in HO-1 transcription. Transfection of Bach1 shRNA in Hepa cells raised basal HO-1 expression significantly, and SnMP treatment further increased HO-1 mRNA. In conclusion, SnMP induces HO-1 expression not only by de-repressing the HO-1 promoter by binding Bach1, but also by accelerating Bach1 degradation.
PMCID: PMC1805812  PMID: 17257585
Bach1; heme oxygenase; isozymes; metalloporphyrins; tin mesoporphyrin
10.  Treatment of neonatal jaundice with filtered sunlight in Nigerian neonates: study protocol of a non-inferiority, randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:446.
Severe neonatal jaundice and its progression to kernicterus is a leading cause of death and disability among newborns in poorly-resourced countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The standard treatment for jaundice using conventional phototherapy (CPT) with electric artificial blue light sources is often hampered by the lack of (functional) CPT devices due either to financial constraints or erratic electrical power. In an attempt to make phototherapy (PT) more readily available for the treatment of pathologic jaundice in underserved tropical regions, we set out to test the hypothesis that filtered sunlight phototherapy (FS-PT), in which potentially harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays are appropriately screened, will be as efficacious as CPT.
This prospective, non-blinded randomized controlled non-inferiority trial seeks to enroll infants with elevated total serum/plasma bilirubin (TSB, defined as 3 mg/dl below the level recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for high-risk infants requiring PT) who will be randomly and equally assigned to receive FS-PT or CPT for a total of 616 days at an inner-city maternity hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. Two FS-PT canopies with pre-tested films will be used. One canopy with a film that transmits roughly 33% blue light (wavelength range: 400 to 520 nm) will be used during sunny periods of a day. Another canopy with a film that transmits about 79% blue light will be used during overcast periods of the day. The infants will be moved from one canopy to the other as needed during the day with the goal of keeping the blue light irradiance level above 8 μW/cm2/nm.
Primary outcome: FS-PT will be as efficacious as CPT in reducing the rate of rise in bilirubin levels. Secondary outcome: The number of infants requiring exchange transfusion under FS-PT will not be more than those under CPT.
This novel study offers the prospect of an effective treatment for infants at risk of severe neonatal jaundice and avoidable exchange transfusion in poorly-resourced settings without access to (reliable) CPT in the tropics.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT01434810
PMCID: PMC3879162  PMID: 24373547
Filtered sunlight phototherapy; Hyperbilirubinemia; Developing country; Low-cost technologies; Irradiance; Africa
11.  Bilirubin Neurotoxicity in Preterm Infants: Risk and Prevention 
Hemolytic conditions in preterm neonates, including Rhesus (Rh) disease, can lead to mortality and long-term impairments due to bilirubin neurotoxicity. Universal access to Rh immunoprophylaxis, coordinated perinatal-neonatal care, and effective phototherapy has virtually eliminated the risk of kernicterus in many countries. In the absence of jaundice due to isoimmunization and without access to phototherapy or exchange transfusion (in 1955), kernicterus was reported at 10.1%, 5.5%, and 1.2% in babies <30, 31-32, and 33-34 wks gestational age, respectively. Phototherapy initiated at 24±12 hr effectively prevented hyperbilirubinemia in infants <2,000 g even in the presence of hemolysis. This approach (in 1985) reduced exchange transfusions from 23.9% to 4.8%. Now with 3 decades of experience in implementing effective phototherapy, the need for exchange transfusions has virtually been eliminated. However, bilirubin neurotoxicity continues to be associated with prematurity alone. The ability to better predict this risk, other than birthweight and gestation, has been elusive. Objective tests such as total bilirubin, unbound or free bilirubin, albumin levels, and albumin-bilirubin binding, together with observations of concurrent hemolysis, sepsis, and rapid rate of bilirubin rise have been considered, but their individual or combined predictive utility has yet to be refined. The disruptive effects of immaturity, concurrent neonatal disease, cholestasis, use of total parenteral nutrition or drugs that alter bilirubin-binding abilities augment the clinical risk of neurotoxicity. Current management options rely on the “fine-tuning” of each infant's exposure to beneficial antioxidants and avoidance of silent neurotoxic properties of bilirubin navigated within the safe spectrum of operational thresholds demarcated by experts.
PMCID: PMC3775137  PMID: 24049745
Bilirubin neurotoxicity; hyperbilirubinemia; jaundice; kernicterus; preterm
12.  Panhematin provides a therapeutic benefit in experimental pancreatitis 
Gut  2010;60(5):671-679.
Background and aim
Acute pancreatitis (AP) can result in pancreatic necrosis and inflammation, with subsequent multi-organ failure. AP is associated with increased neutrophil recruitment and rise in pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNFα. Pretreatment with hemin, results in recruitment of hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1)+ macrophages and protects from experimental pancreatitis. It is not clear whether modulation of HO-1 after onset of disease has a protective role. In this study, we tested the utility of Panhematin, a water-soluble hemin formulation, in activating and inducing pancreatic HO-1, and as a therapeutic agent in treating mouse acute pancreatitis.
We defined the distribution of radiolabeled hemin, then used in-vivo HO-1-luciferase bioluminescence imaging and CO2-release-assay to test Panhematin-induced upregulation of HO-1 transcription and activity, respectively. Using two well-defined AP murine models, we tested the therapeutic benefit of Panhematin, and quantified cytokine release using a luminex assay.
Intravenously-administered Panhematin induces rapid recruitment of HO-1+ cells to the pancreas within 2h and de novo splenic HO-1 transcription by 12h. Despite high baseline spleen HO-1 activity, the pancreas is particularly responsive to Panhematin-mediated HO-1 induction. Panhematin-treated mice, at various time points after AP induction had significant reduction in mortality, pancreatic injury, together with up-regulation of HO-1 and down-regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines and CXCL1, a potent neutrophil chemoattractant.
Despite AP-associated mortality and morbidity, no effective treatment other than supportive care exists. We demonstrate that Panhematin leads to: i) rapid induction and activation of pancreatic HO-1 with recruitment of HO-1+ cells to the pancreas, ii) amelioration of AP even when given late during the course of disease, and iii) a decrease in leukocyte infiltration and pro-inflammatory cytokines including CXCL1. The utility of Panhematin at modest doses as a therapeutic in experimental pancreatitis, coupled with its current use and safety in humans, raises the potential of its applicability to human pancreatitis.
PMCID: PMC3580958  PMID: 21159893
Acute pancreatitis; heme-oxygenase 1; CXCL1
13.  Is phototherapy exposure associated with better or worse outcomes in 501–1000 gram birth weight infants? 
To compare risk-adjusted outcomes at 18–22 months corrected age for extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants who never received phototherapy (NoPTx) to those who received any phototherapy (PTx) in the NICHD Neonatal Research Network randomized trial of Aggressive vs. Conservative Phototherapy.
Outcomes at 18–22 months corrected age included death, neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI), and Bayley Scales Mental Developmental Index (MDI). Regression models evaluated the independent association of PTx with adverse outcomes controlling for center and other potentially confounding variables.
Of 1972 infants, 216 were NoPTx and 1756 were PTx. For the entire 501–1000 g BW cohort, PTx was not independently associated with death or NDI (OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.60 –1.20), death, or adverse neurodevelopmental endpoints. However, among infants 501–750 g BW, the rate of significant developmental impairment with MDI<50 was significantly higher for NoPTx (29%) than PTx (12%) (p=0.004).
Phototherapy did not appear to be independently associated with death or NDI for the overall ELBW group. Whether PTx increases mortality could not be excluded due to bias from deaths before reaching conservative treatment threshold. The higher rate of MDI<50 in the 501–750g BW NoPTx group is concerning, and consistent with NRN Trial results.
PMCID: PMC3505994  PMID: 21272067
14.  Maternal Heme Oxygenase 1 Regulates Placental Vasculature Development via Angiogenic Factors in Mice1 
Biology of Reproduction  2011;85(5):1005-1012.
The placental vasculature is critical for nutrient, gas, and waste exchange between the maternal and fetal systems. Its development depends on the proper expression and interaction of angiogenesis and associated growth factors. Heme oxygenase (HMOX), the enzyme for heme degradation, plays a role in angiogenesis and is highly expressed in the placenta. To evaluate the role of maternal HMOX1, the inducible HMOX isozyme, on placental vasculature formation, mice with a partial deficiency in Hmox1 (Hmox1+/−) were used. Three-dimensional images of placental vasculatures as well as spiral arteries from Hmox1+/+ or Hmox1+/− placentas were created by vascular corrosion casting technique and imaged by micro-computerized tomography (microCT). The structures and morphologies of fetomaternal interfaces were observed by histological staining and the ultrastructure of uterine natural killer (uNK) cells, a major regulator in spiral artery remodeling, was analyzed by transmission electron microscopy. A group of growth factors and angiogenic factors from the decidua/mesometrial lymphoid aggregate of pregnancy (MLAp) as well as labyrinth regions were quantified using an angiogenesis PCR array kit and compared between Hmox1+/+ or Hmox1+/− placentas. In conclusion, a partial deficiency of maternal Hmox1 resulted in the malformation of fetomaternal interface, insufficiency of spiral artery remodeling, and alteration of uNK cell differentiation and maturation. These changes were independent of the fetal genotype, but relied on the maternal HMOX1 level, which determined the balance of expression levels of pro- and antiangiogenic factors in the decidua/MLAp region. These results implied that Hmox1 polymorphisms among the human population might contribute to some unexplained cases of pregnancy disorders, such as fetal growth retardation and preeclampsia.
Maternal HMOX1 is essential for the formation of the fetomaternal interface, remodeling of the uterine spiral arteries, and differentiation and maturation of uNK cells; its effects are primarily mediated through the regulation of a group of pro- and anti-angiogenesis factors in the decidua/MLAp region.
PMCID: PMC3197918  PMID: 21778140
angiogenesis; heme oxygenase 1; intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR); placenta; spiral artery remodeling; uterine natural killer (uNK) cell
The Journal of pediatrics  2010;157(5):772-777.
We quantified hemolysis and determined the incidence of hyperbilirubinemia in direct antiglobulin titer (DAT) positive, ABO heterospecific neonates and compared variables among O-A and O-B subgroups. Study design Plasma total bilirubin (PTB) was determined predischarge and more frequently if clinically warranted, in DAT positive, blood group A or B neonates of group O mothers. Heme catabolism (and therefore bilirubin production) was indexed by blood carboxyhemoglobin corrected for inspired carbon monoxide (COHbc). Hyperbilirubinemia was defined as any PTB concentration >95th percentile on the hour-of-life-specific bilirubin nomogram.
Of 164 neonates, 111 were O-A and 53 O-B. Overall, 85 (51.8%) developed hyperbilirubinemia, which tended to be more prevalent in the O-B than O-A neonates (62.3% vs. 46.8% respectively, p=0.053). Importantly, more O-B than O-A newborns developed hyperbilirubinemia at <24 hours (93.9% vs. 48.1%, p<0.0001). COHbc values were globally higher than our previously published newborn values. Babies who developed hyperbilirubinemia had higher COHbc values than the already high values of those non-hyperbilirubinemic, and O-B newborns tended to have higher values than O-A counterparts.
DAT positive, ABO heterospecificity is associated with increased hemolysis and a high incidence of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. O-B heterospecificity tends to confer even higher risk than O-A counterparts.
PMCID: PMC2951500  PMID: 20598320
Direct antiglobulin titer; bilirubin; ABO heterospecificity; hemolysis; hyperbilirubinemia; carboxyhemoglobin
16.  Metalloporphyrins in the management of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia 
Neonatal jaundice in the first week of life is a common problem in newborns. It is due to an imbalance of bilirubin production and its elimination, which can lead to significantly elevated levels of circulating bilirubin or hyperbilirubinemia. Use of phototherapy and/or exchange transfusion are the current modes for treating neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and preventing any neurologic damage. These strategies, however, only remove bilirubin that has already been formed. Preventing the production of excess bilirubin may be a more logical approach. Synthetic heme analogs, metalloporphyrins, are competitive inhibitors of heme oxygenase (HO), the rate-limiting enzyme in bilirubin production, and their use has been proposed as an attractive alternative strategy for preventing or treating severe hyperbilirubinemia.
PMCID: PMC2859976  PMID: 20006567
Bilirubin; Heme oxygenase; Hyperbilirubinemia metalloporphyrin; Neonatal jaundice
17.  Heme Oxygenase-1 Deletion Affects Stress Erythropoiesis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20634.
Homeostatic erythropoiesis leads to the formation of mature red blood cells under non-stress conditions, and the production of new erythrocytes occurs as the need arises. In response to environmental stimuli, such as bone marrow transplantation, myelosuppression, or anemia, erythroid progenitors proliferate rapidly in a process referred to as stress erythropoiesis. We have previously demonstrated that heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) deficiency leads to disrupted stress hematopoiesis. Here, we describe the specific effects of HO-1 deficiency on stress erythropoiesis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We used a transplant model to induce stress conditions. In irradiated recipients that received hmox+/− or hmox+/+ bone marrow cells, we evaluated (i) the erythrocyte parameters in the peripheral blood; (ii) the staining intensity of CD71-, Ter119-, and CD49d-specific surface markers during erythroblast differentiation; (iii) the patterns of histological iron staining; and (iv) the number of Mac-1+-cells expressing TNF-α. In the spleens of mice that received hmox+/− cells, we show (i) decreases in the proerythroblast, basophilic, and polychromatophilic erythroblast populations; (ii) increases in the insoluble iron levels and decreases in the soluble iron levels; (iii) increased numbers of Mac-1+-cells expressing TNF-α; and (iv) decreased levels of CD49d expression in the basophilic and polychromatophilic erythroblast populations.
As reflected by effects on secreted and cell surface proteins, HO-1 deletion likely affects stress erythropoiesis through the retention of erythroblasts in the erythroblastic islands of the spleen. Thus, HO-1 may serve as a therapeutic target for controlling erythropoiesis, and the dysregulation of HO-1 may be a predisposing condition for hematologic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3105104  PMID: 21655188
18.  Influence of Clinical Status on the Association Between Plasma Total and Unbound Bilirubin and Death or Adverse Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants 
To assess the influence of clinical status on the association between total plasma bilirubin and unbound bilirubin on death or adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes at 18–22 months corrected age in extremely low birth weight infants.
Total plasma biirubin and unbound biirubin were measured in 1,101 extremely low birth weight infants at 5±1 day of age. Clinical criteria were used to classify infants as clinically stable or unstable. Survivors were examined at 18–22 months corrected age by certified examiners. Outcome variables were death or neurodevelopmental impairment, death or cerebral palsy, death or hearing loss, and death prior to follow-up. For all outcomes, the interaction between bilirubin variables and clinical status was assessed in logistic regression analyses adjusted for multiple risk factors.
Regardless of clinical status, an increasing level of unbound bilirubin was associated with higher rates of death or neurodevelopmental impairment, death or cerebral palsy, death or hearing loss and death before follow-up. Total plasma bilirubin values were directly associated with death or neurodevelopmental impairment, death or cerebral palsy, death or hearing loss, and death before follow-up in unstable infants, but not in stable infants. An inverse association between total plasma bilirubin and death or cerebral palsy was found in stable infants.
In extremely low birth weight infants, clinical status at 5 days of age affects the association between total plasma and unbound bilirubin and death or adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes at 18–22 months of corrected age. An increasing level of UB is associated a higher risk of death or adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes regardless of clinical status. Increasing levels of total plasma bilirubin are directly associated with increasing risk of death or adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in unstable, but not in stable infants.
PMCID: PMC2875328  PMID: 20105142
Plasma bilirubin; unbound bilirubin; Extremely low birth weight infants; Neurodevelopmental outcomes
19.  Spontaneous hepatic repopulation in transgenic mice expressing mutant human α1-antitrypsin by wild-type donor hepatocytes 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(5):1930-1934.
α1-Antitrypsin deficiency is an inherited condition that causes liver disease and emphysema. The normal function of this protein, which is synthesized by the liver, is to inhibit neutrophil elastase, a protease that degrades connective tissue of the lung. In the classical form of the disease, inefficient secretion of a mutant α1-antitrypsin protein (AAT-Z) results in its accumulation within hepatocytes and reduced protease inhibitor activity, resulting in liver injury and pulmonary emphysema. Because mutant protein accumulation increases hepatocyte cell stress, we investigated whether transplanted hepatocytes expressing wild-type AAT might have a competitive advantage relative to AAT-Z–expressing hepatocytes, using transgenic mice expressing human AAT-Z. Wild-type donor hepatocytes replaced 20%–98% of mutant host hepatocytes, and repopulation was accelerated by injection of an adenovector expressing hepatocyte growth factor. Spontaneous hepatic repopulation with engrafted hepatocytes occurred in the AAT-Z–expressing mice even in the absence of severe liver injury. Donor cells replaced both globule-containing and globule-devoid cells, indicating that both types of host hepatocytes display impaired proliferation relative to wild-type hepatocytes. These results suggest that wild-type hepatocyte transplantation may be therapeutic for AAT-Z liver disease and may provide an alternative to protein replacement for treating emphysema in AAT-ZZ individuals.
PMCID: PMC3083768  PMID: 21505264
Placenta  2009;30(10):861-868.
Heme oxygenase (HO) is the rate-limiting enzyme in the heme catabolic pathway and highly expressed in the placenta. Deficiencies in HO-1, the inducible isoform, have been associated with pregnancy disorders, such as recurrent miscarriages, intrauterine growth retardation, and pre-eclampsia. The aim of this study was to identify if a deficiency in HO-1 affects placental development using a mouse model. When HO-1 heterozygote (Het, HO-1+/−) mice were cross-bred, an extremely low birth rate in homozygote (Mut, HO-1−/−) offspring (2.4%) and small litter sizes were observed. Placentas and fetuses from Het cross-breedings were relatively smaller and weighed less than those from wild-type (WT) cross-breedings at E12.5 and E15.5. Furthermore, Het placentas had significantly less HO-1 mRNA and protein levels than WT placentas, but no significant differences in placental HO activity. Interestingly, HO-2, the constitutive HO isoform, as well as iNOS and eNOS expression were significantly upregulated in Het placentas. Histological examination showed that the junctional zone (JZ) of Het placentas were markedly thinner than those of WT placentas and appeared to be due to an increase in apoptosis. Immunohistochemistry revealed that HO-1-expressing cells were located primarily in the JZ of Het placentas, specifically in the spongiotrophoblast layer. In addition, diastolic blood pressures and plasma soluble VEGFR-1 (sFlt-1) levels were significantly elevated in pregnant Het mice. We conclude that a partial deficiency in HO-1 is associated with morphological changes in the placenta and elevations in maternal diastolic blood pressure and plasma sFlt-1 levels, despite a compensatory increase in HO-2 expression.
PMCID: PMC2771543  PMID: 19699520
21.  Effects of Sample Dilution, Peroxidase Concentration, and Chloride Ion on the Measurement of Unbound Bilirubin in Premature Newborns 
Clinical biochemistry  2006;40(3-4):261-267.
To assess the effects of sample dilution, peroxidase concentration, and chloride ion (Cl-) on plasma unbound bilirubin (Bf) measurements made using a commercial peroxidase methodology (UB Analyzer) in a study population of ill, premature newborns.
Design and Methods
Bf was measured with a UB Analyzer in 74 samples at the standard 42-fold sample dilution and compared with Bf measured at a 2-fold sample dilution using a FloPro Analyzer. Bf was measured at two peroxidase concentrations to determine whether the peroxidase steady state Bf (Bfss) measurements were significantly less than the equilibrium Bf (Bfeq), in which case it was necessary to calculate Bfeq from the two Bfss measurements. Bf was also measured before and after adding 100 mmol/L Cl- to the UB Analyzer assay buffer.
Bfeq at the 42-fold dilution was nearly 10-fold less than but correlated significantly with Bfeq at the 2-fold dilution (mean 8.2±5.2 nmol/L versus 73.5 ±70 nmol/L, respectively, p<0.0001; correlation r=0.6). The two UB Analyzer Bfss measurements were significantly less than Bfeq in 42 of 74 (57%) samples, and Cl- increased Bfeq in 66 of 74 (89%) samples by a mean of 82±67%.
Bfss measured by the UB Analyzer at the standard 42-fold sample dilution using assay buffer without Cl- and a single peroxidase concentration is significantly less than the Bfeq in undiluted plasma. Accurate Bf measurements can be made only in minimally diluted serum or plasma.
PMCID: PMC1945224  PMID: 17069786
newborn jaundice; hyperbilirubinemia; unbound bilirubin; peroxidase test; bilirubin/albumin binding; free bilirubin

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