The role of heme oxygenase-1 in pulmonary disease

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2007 Feb;36(2):158-65. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2006-0331TR. Epub 2006 Sep 15.


Heme oxygenase (HO)-1, the inducible isoform of heme oxygenase, is a cytoprotective enzyme that plays a central role in the defense against oxidative and inflammatory insults in the lung. HO-1 catalyzes the degradation of heme, a potent oxidant, into biliverdin, iron, and carbon monoxide (CO). These downstream products of heme catabolism have recently been found to mediate the antioxidant, antiapoptotic, antiproliferative, vasodilatory, and anti-inflammatory properties of HO-1. Although absence of HO-1 is rare in humans, a number of HO-1 promoter polymorphisms have been identified that may influence HO-1 expression in vivo and lead to disease states. This review will summarize studies that implicate HO-1 and heme metabolites in the pathophysiology of pulmonary disease and discuss recent advances in the therapeutic applications of HO-1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Heme Oxygenase-1 / genetics
  • Heme Oxygenase-1 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / enzymology*
  • Lung Diseases / genetics
  • Lung Diseases / therapy
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Vascular Diseases / enzymology
  • Vascular Diseases / genetics
  • Vascular Diseases / therapy


  • Heme Oxygenase-1