Long-term expression of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1, HSP-32) following focal cerebral infarctions and traumatic brain injury in humans

Rudi Beschorner*, Diana Adjodah, Jan M. Schwab, Michel Mittelbronn, Ingo Pedal, Rainer Mattern, Hermann J. Schluesener, Richard Meyermann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)


Extracellular heme derived from hemoglobin following hemorrhage or released from dying cells induces the expression of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1, HSP-32) which metabolizes heme to the gaseous mediator carbon monoxide (CO), iron (Fe) and biliverdin. Biliverdin and its product bilirubin are powerful antioxidants. Thus, expression of HO-1 is considered to be a protective mechanism against oxidative stress and has been described in microglia, astrocytes and neurons following distinct experimental models of pathological alterations to the brain such as subarachnoidal hemorrhage, ischemia and traumatic brain injury (TBI) and in human neurodegenerative diseases. We have now analyzed the expression of HO-1 in human brains following TBI (n = 28; survival times: few minutes up to 6 months) and focal cerebral infarctions (FCI; n = 17; survival time: < 1 day up to months) by immunohistochemistry. Follwing TBI, accumulation of HO-1+ microglia/macrophages at the hemorrhagic lesion was detected as early as 6 h post trauma and was still pronounced after 6 months. In contrast, after FCI HO-1+ microglia/macrophages accumulated within focal hemorrhages only and were absent in non-hemorrhagic regions. Further, HO-1 was weakly expressed in astrocytes in the perifocal penumbra. In contrast to experimental data derived from rat focal ischemia, these results indicate a prolonged HO-1 expression in humans after brain injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-384
Number of pages8
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral infarction
  • Heat shock protein-32
  • Heme oxygenase-1
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Traumatic brain injury


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