Background and purpose: MP4 (Hemospan) is a Hb-based oxygen therapeutic agent, based on polyethylene-glycol (PEG) conjugation to Hb, undergoing clinical trials as an oxygen carrier. This study describes the functional interaction between MP4 and carbon monoxide (CO), as a CO delivery agent, and the effects of CO-MP4 on myocardial infarct size following ischaemia and reperfusion in rats.
Experimental approach: Kinetic measurements of CO-MP4 binding were used to evaluate the effects of PEG modification on Hb subunit structure/function and to calculate CO-MP4 equilibrium constants. CO transport by CO-MP4 was shown by ligand (O2/CO) partitioning between MP4 and red blood cell (RBC)-Hb. Pharmacological effects of CO-MP4 were studied on myocardial infarction in rats.
Key results: CO binding kinetics show primary structural/functional effects on beta chains in MP4, with alpha chains maintaining the ability to undergo tertiary conformational transition. CO confers long-term, room-temperature stability and is able to rapidly re-equilibrate between MP4 and RBCs. In a rat model of myocardial infarct, in contrast to oxy-MP4, CO-MP4 reduced infarct size when administered prior to the induction of ischaemia.
Conclusions and implications: MP4 PEGylation chemistry modifies the individual function of Hb subunits, but results in an overall CO equilibrium constant similar to that for unmodified Hb. CO-MP4 is able to deliver CO to the circulation and reduces ischaemia/reperfusion injury in rats, providing the first evidence for this drug as a CO therapeutic agent.