Heme oxygenase-1 is induced in glia throughout brain by subarachnoid hemoglobin

Christopher P. Turner, Marcelle Bergeron, Paul Matz, Angelo Zegna, Linda J. Noble, S. Scott Panter, Frank R Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


The heme oxygenase-1 gene, HO-1, induced by heme, ischemia, and heat shock, metabolizes heme to biliverdin, free iron, and carbon monoxide. Though the distribution of HO-1 has been described in normal rat brain, little is known about how extracellular heme proteins in the subarachnoid space distribute in brain. To address this issue, hemoglobin was injected into the cisterna magna of adult rats. Expression of HO-1 in these animals was compared with saline-injected, BSA-injected, and uninjected controls. Western blot analysis showed that 24 hours after injection oxyhemoglobin increased HO-1 levels approximately four- to fivefold in all brain regions studied compared with saline-injected and BSA-injected controls. In the brain, HO-1 immunoreactivity was evident at 4 hours and peaked at 24 hours after oxyhemoglobin injections, returning to control levels by 4 to 8 days. This HO-1 induction was detected mainly in cells with small, rounded somas bearing two to four truncated processes, a morphology consistent with that of microglia. These cells were double-stained with the microglial marker, OX42, in every brain region examined. It is proposed that subarachnoid hemoglobin may be taken up into microgila wherein heme induces HO-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-273
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Heme-Iron
  • Neurotrauma
  • Stress genes
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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