Heme, heme oxygenase, and endoplasmic reticulum stress—a new insight into the pathophysiology of vascular diseases

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

8 Citations (Scopus)


The prevalence of vascular disorders continues to rise worldwide. Parallel with that, new pathophysiological pathways have been discovered, providing possible remedies for prevention and therapy in vascular diseases. Growing evidence suggests that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is involved in a number of vasculopathies, including atherosclerosis, vascular brain events, and diabetes. Heme, which is released from hemoglobin or other heme proteins, triggers various pathophysiological consequence, including heme stress as well as ER stress. The potentially toxic free heme is converted by heme oxygenases (HOs) into carbon monoxide (CO), iron, and biliverdin (BV), the latter of which is reduced to bilirubin (BR). Redox-active iron is oxidized and stored by ferritin, an iron sequestering protein which exhibits ferroxidase activity. In recent years, CO, BV, and BR have been shown to control cellular processes such as inflammation, apoptosis, and antioxidant defense. This review covers our current knowledge about how heme induced endoplasmic reticulum stress (HIERS) participates in the pathogenesis of vascular disorders and highlights recent discoveries in the molecular mechanisms of HO-mediated cytoprotection in heme stress and ER stress, as well as crosstalk between ER stress and HO-1. Furthermore, we focus on the translational potential of HIERS and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) in atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, and brain hemorrhage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3675
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Endoplasmic reticulum stress
  • Heme
  • Heme oxygenase
  • Hemoglobin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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