Age alters expression and inducibility of heme oxygenase isozymes in mice

Christopher J. Barnes, Ivan L. Cameron, Belen Puleo-Scheppke, Makau Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Heme oxygenase (HO) performs the rate limiting step in heme degradation and is induced by cell injury or stress. We wished to determine if dietary fatty acid composition, increased age and/or an induced oxidative stress would alter the expression of HO-1 (constitutive and inducible isozyme) or of HO-2 (constitutive isozyme), in mouse liver, spleen and brain. Six- and 24-month-old male B6C3F1 mice were fed AIN-76A diets containing either 5% corn oil (CO, moderately unsaturated, n=5 per age group) or 19% menhaden fish oil plus 1% corn oil (FO, highly polyunsaturated, n=20 per age group). After 2 weeks, 5 CO and 5 FO fed mice in each age group were sacrificed. The remaining FO diet mice (n=15 per age group) were then challenged with a systemic oxidative stress by intraperitoneal injection of 125 mg iron/kg body weight as iron dextran. Five stressed mice from each age group were sacrificed 1,5, and 24 hours post injection; liver, spleen and brain were removed. Part of each tissue was fixed in formalin, and microsomal protein isolated from the remaining tissue. HO-1 and HO-2 were detected by immunoblot of microsomal protein and by immunohistochemical staining of fixed tissue in the liver and spleen, but only HO-2 was detected in the brain. There was no significant difference in HO-1 or HO-2 expression due to diet. The liver of old unstressed mice had significantly more HO-1 than young mice. However, HO-1 was significantly induced in the livers of young mice, but not of old mice, following oxidative stress. Spleen HO-1 expression was not significantly altered by age or oxidative stress. HO-2 expression was not significantly altered by age or induced oxidative stress in any tissue examined. Age-related alterations in liver HO-1 isozyme expression and inducibility may contribute to increased susceptibility to exogenous stress and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-128
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Aging Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Age
  • Fatty acids
  • Heme oxygenase
  • Mice
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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