We have recently identified and characterized NADPH-dependent microsomal heme oxygenase as the major enzymatic mechanism for the conversion of hemoglobin-heme to bilirubin-IXα in vivo. Enzyme activity is highest in tissues normally involved in red cell breakdown, that is, spleen, liver, and bone marrow, but it usually is negligible in the kidney. However, renal heme oxygenase activity may be transiently increased 30- to 100-fold following hemoglobinemia that exceeded the plasma haptoglobin-binding capacity and consequently resulted in hemoglobinuria. Maximal stimulation of enzyme activity in rats is reached 6-16 hr following a single intravenous injection of 30 mg of hemoglobin per 100 g body weight; activity returns to basal levels after about 48 hr. At peak level, total enzyme activity in the kidneys exceeds that of the spleen or liver. Cyclohexamide, puromycin, or actinomycin D, given just before, or within a few hours after, a single intravenous injection of hemoglobin minimizes or prevents the rise in renal enzyme activity; this suggests that the increase in enzyme activity is dependent on continued synthesis of ribonucleic acid and protein. The apparent biological half-life of renal heme oxygenase is about 6 hr. These observations indicate that functional adaptation of renal heme oxygenase activity reflects enzyme induction either directly or indirectly by the substrate, hemoglobin.
Neville R. Pimstone, Peter Engel, Raimo Tenhunen, Paul T. Seitz, Harvey S. Marver, Rudi Schmid