Heme-oxygenases (HOs) catalyze the conversion of heme into carbon monoxide and biliverdin. HO-1 is induced during hypoxia, ischemia/reperfusion, and inflammation, providing cytoprotection and inhibiting leukocyte migration to inflammatory sites. Although in vitro studies have suggested an additional role for HO-1 in angiogenesis, the relevance of this in vivo remains unknown. We investigated the involvement of HO-1 in angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) induced prolonged HO-1 expression and activity in human endothelial cells and HO-1 inhibition abrogated VEGF-driven angiogenesis. Two murine models of angiogenesis were used: (1) angiogenesis initiated by addition of VEGF to Matrigel and (2) a lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced model of inflammatory angiogenesis in which angiogenesis is secondary to leukocyte invasion. Pharmacologic inhibition of HO-1 induced marked leukocytic infiltration that enhanced VEGF-induced angiogenesis. However, in the presence of an anti-CD18 monoclonal antibody (mAb) to block leukocyte migration, VEGF-induced angiogenesis was significantly inhibited by HO-1 antagonists. Furthermore, in the LPS-induced model of inflammatory angiogenesis, induction of HO-1 with cobalt protoporphyrin significantly inhibited leukocyte invasion into LPS-conditioned Matrigel and thus prevented the subsequent angiogenesis. We therefore propose that during chronic inflammation HO-1 has 2 roles: first, an anti-inflammatory action inhibiting leukocyte infiltration; and second, promotion of VEGF-driven noninflammatory angiogenesis that facilitates tissue repair.
Bussolati, B., Ahmed, A., Pemberton, H., Landis, R. C., di Carlo, F., Haskard, D. O., & Mason, J. C. (2004). Bifunctional role for VEGF-induced heme oxygenase-1 in vivo: induction of angiogenesis and inhibition of leukocytic infiltration. Blood, 103(3), 761-766. https://doi.org/10.1182/blood-2003-06-1974