Carbon monoxide blocks oxidative stress-induced hepatocyte apoptosis via inhibition of the p54 JNK isoform

Laura Conde de la Rosa, Titia E. Vrenken, Rebekka A. Hannivoort, Manon Buist-Homan, Rick Havinga, Dirk-Jan Slebos, Henk F. Kauffman, Klaas Nico Faber, Peter L. M. Jansen, Han Moshage

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Most chronic liver diseases are accompanied by oxidative stress, which may induce apoptosis in hepatocytes and liver injury. Oxidative stress induces heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) expression. This stress-responsive cytoprotective protein is responsible for heme degradation into carbon monoxide (CO), free iron, and biliverdin. CO is an important intracellular messenger; however, the exact mechanisms responsible for its cytoprotective effect are not yet elucidated. Thus, we investigated whether HO-1 and CO protect primary hepatocytes against oxidative-stress-induced apoptosis. In vivo, bile duct ligation was used as model of chronic liver disease. In vitro, primary hepatocytes were exposed to the superoxide anion donor menadione in a normal and in a CO-- containing atmosphere. Apoptosis was determined by measuring caspase-9, -6, -3 activity and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, and necrosis was determined by Sytox green staining. The results showed that (1) HO-1 is induced in chronic cholestatic liver disease, (2) superoxide anions time- and dose-dependently induce HO-1 activity, (3) HO-1 overexpression inhibits superoxide-anions-induced apoptosis, and (4) CO blocks superoxide-anions-induced JNK phosphorylation and caspase-9, -6, -3 activation and abolishes apoptosis but does not increase necrosis. We conclude that HO-1 and CO protect primary hepatocytes against superoxide-anions-induced apoptosis partially via inhibition of JNK activity. CO could represent an important candidate for the treatment of liver diseases
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323-1333
JournalFree radical biology & medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Cite this