Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), the rate-limiting enzyme in heme degradation, is a cytoprotective enzyme upregulated in the vasculature by increased flow and inflammatory stimuli. Human genetic data suggest that a diminished HO-1 expression may predispose one to abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) development. In addition, heme is known to strongly induce HO-1 expression. Utilizing the porcine pancreatic elastase (PPE) model of AAA induction in HO-1 heterozygous (HO-1+/-, HO-1 Het) mice, we found that a deficiency in HO-1 leads to augmented AAA development. Peritoneal macrophages from HO-1+/- mice showed increased gene expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including MCP-1, TNF-alpha, IL-1-beta, and IL-6, but decreased expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-10 and TGF-beta. Furthermore, treatment with heme returned AAA progression in HO-1 Het mice to a wild-type profile. Using a second murine AAA model (Ang II-ApoE-/-), we showed that low doses of the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor rosuvastatin can induce HO-1 expression in aortic tissue and suppress AAA progression in the absence of lipid lowering. Our results support those studies that suggest that pleiotropic statin effects might be beneficial in AAA, possibly through the upregulation of HO-1. Specific targeted therapies designed to induce HO-1 could become an adjunctive therapeutic strategy for the prevention of AAA disease.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0149288
View details for PubMedID 26894432