Heme-induced heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) in human monocytes inhibits apoptosis despite caspase-3 up-regulation.Int Immunol. 2005 Feb; 17(2):155-65.II
Monocyte activation, apoptosis and differentiation are hallmarks of most inflammatory vascular disorders. We studied the effects of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) induced by its substrate hemin on apoptosis, caspase-3 expression and the differentiation of freshly isolated human monocytes. Hemin induced HO-1 in a dose- and time-dependent fashion as measured by semi-quantitative RT-PCR and flow cytometry. Apoptosis was markedly suppressed by hemin in cells rendered apoptotic by serum deprivation or dexamethasone as determined by flow cytometric detection of annexin V binding or transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The specific HO-1 inhibitor zinc protoporphyrin (ZnPP) reversed the effects of hemin on monocyte apoptosis and diminished cell lifespan. Surprisingly, the cytoprotective effects of hemin were positively correlated with caspase-3 up-regulation. Hemin-induced apoptosis suppression was enhanced by the caspase-3 inhibitor DEVD-CHO, indicating that caspase-3 was active in a pro-apoptotic fashion. Hemin inhibited CD95 as a putative cytoprotective mechanism. Morphological studies and detection of CD86 showed that monocytes differentiated into macrophages in response to hemin after relatively long incubation times, a phenomenon that might be provoked by caspase-3-regulated pathways. Our results confirm a similar cytoprotective effect of hemin/HO-1 for monocytes as has been shown for other cells, despite caspase-3 up-regulation. The fact that HO-1 may adversely affect monocyte survival and differentiation could be of particular significance in future therapies for occlusive vascular diseases or transplant rejection.