Regeneration of adult neural circuits after an injury is limited in the central nervous system (CNS). Heme oxygenase (HO) is an enzyme that produces HO metabolites, such as carbon monoxide (CO), biliverdin and iron by heme degradation. CO may act as a biological signal transduction effector in CNS regeneration by stimulating neuronal intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms as well as mitochondrial biogenesis. CO may give directions by which the injured neurovascular system switches into regeneration mode by stimulating endogenous neural stem cells and endothelial cells to produce neurons and vessels capable of replacing injured neurons and vessels in the CNS. The present review discusses the regenerative potential of CO in acute and chronic neuroinflammatory diseases of the CNS, such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease and the role of signaling pathways and neurotrophic factors. CO-mediated facilitation of cellular communications may boost regeneration, consequently forming functional adult neural circuits in CNS injury.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; angiogenesis; carbon monoxide; central nervous system; multiple sclerosis; neurogenesis; regeneration; stroke; traumatic brain injury.