Heme oxygenase-2 gene deletion attenuates oxidative stress in neurons exposed to extracellular hemin
Department of Emergency Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, 1020 Sansom Street, 239 Thompson Building, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA
BMC Neuroscience 2004, 5:34 doi:10.1186/1471-2202-5-34Published: 17 September 2004
Hemin, the oxidized form of heme, accumulates in intracranial hematomas and is a potent oxidant. Growing evidence suggests that it contributes to delayed injury to surrounding tissue, and that this process is affected by the heme oxygenase enzymes. In a prior study, heme oxygenase-2 gene deletion increased the vulnerability of cultured cortical astrocytes to hemin. The present study tested the effect of HO-2 gene deletion on protein oxidation, reactive oxygen species formation, and cell viability after mixed cortical neuron/astrocyte cultures were incubated with neurotoxic concentrations of hemin.
Continuous exposure of wild-type cultures to 1–10 μM hemin for 14 h produced concentration-dependent neuronal death, as detected by both LDH release and fluorescence intensity after propidium iodide staining, with an EC50 of 1–2 μM; astrocytes were not injured by these low hemin concentrations. Cell death was consistently reduced by at least 60% in knockout cultures. Exposure to hemin for 4 hours, a time point that preceded cell lysis, increased protein oxidation in wild-type cultures, as detected by staining of immunoblots for protein carbonyl groups. At 10 μM hemin, carbonylation was increased 2.3-fold compared with control sister cultures subjected to medium exchanges only; this effect was reduced by about two-thirds in knockout cultures. Cellular reactive oxygen species, detected by fluorescence intensity after dihydrorhodamine 123 (DHR) staining, was markedly increased by hemin in wild-type cultures and was localized to neuronal cell bodies and processes. In contrast, DHR fluorescence intensity in knockout cultures did not differ from that of sham-washed controls. Neuronal death in wild-type cultures was almost completely prevented by the lipid-soluble iron chelator phenanthroline; deferoxamine had a weaker but significant effect.
These results suggest that HO-2 gene deletion protects neurons in mixed neuron-astrocyte cultures from heme-mediated oxidative injury. Selective inhibition of neuronal HO-2 may have a beneficial effect after CNS hemorrhage.