Expression of heme oxygenase-1 in the lung in chronic hypoxia
Heme oxygenase (HO)-1 is an oxygen-dependent enzyme that may regulate vascular tone and cell proliferation through the production of carbon monoxide (CO). We tested the hypothesis that HO-1 is upregulated in the lung in chronic hypoxia by exposing male Sprague-Dawley rats to 17,000 feet (395 Torr) for 0, 1, 3, 7, 14, or 21 days. After exposure, blood gases, carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) levels, and hematocrit were measured, and the lungs were either inflation fixed for immunohistochemistry or frozen for later measurement of HO enzyme activity, Western blot for HO-1 protein, and RT-PCR for HO-1 mRNA. The heart was excised and weighed, and the right-to-left heart weight ratio was determined. During hypoxia, the hematocrit increased progressively, reaching significantly higher values than the control value after 3 days. COHb levels increased above the control value after 1 day of hypoxia and increased progressively between 14 and 21 days, whereas arterial PO2 and arterial PCO2 did not vary significantly. HO-1 protein determined by Western blot increased for the first 7 days and declined thereafter; however, enzyme activity was elevated only after 1 day. Changes in HO-1 during hypoxia were localized by immunohistochemistry to inflammatory cells (early) and newly muscularized arterioles (later). Lung HO-1 mRNA normalized to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase was increased after 1 and 21 days. The data indicate that lung HO-1 protein and activity are upregulated only during early chronic hypoxia, whereas persistent COHb elevations indicate high endogenous CO production rates at nonpulmonary sites. If CO has antiproliferative properties, the lack of HO enzyme activity in the lung may be permissive for pulmonary vascular proliferation in hypoxia.
Carraway, MS; Ghio, AJ; Carter, JD; Piantadosi, CA
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