Heme oxygenase-1 exerts pro-apoptotic effects on hepatic stellate cells in vitro through regulation of nuclear factor-κB

Hui Yang, Bangtao Chen, Zhongfu Zhao, Li Zhang, Yun Zhang, Jie Chen, Xiaoqian Zhang, Xiaohua Zhang, Longfeng Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is an antioxidant and cytoprotective protein, which has been proven to alleviate the proliferation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) and the development of liver fibrosis. However, the role of HO-1 in HSC apoptosis remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of HO-1 on HSC apoptosis and its possible underlying mechanisms. HSCs-T6 were incubated with different concentrations of hemin (HO-1 chemical inducer) and Znpp-IX (HO-1 chemical inhibitor) for 12, 24 and 48 h. Cell viability was determined using an MTT assay. HSCs were classified into 4 groups as follows: Control, hemin, Znpp-IX and hemin+Znpp-IX co-treatment groups. Apoptosis was quantitatively measured by Annexin V/propidium iodide double staining and a terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling assay. The mRNA and protein expression of HO-1, α-smooth muscle actin, B-cell lymphoma (Bcl)-2, caspase-3 and nuclear factor (NF)-κB p65 were measured using quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blotting. The levels of tumor growth factor (TGF)-β and interleukin (IL)-6 in HSC supernatants were examined by ELISA. The results demonstrated that HO-1 exerted antiproliferative effects on HSCs in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Increasing HO-1 expression induced HSC apoptosis in vitro as demonstrated by a significant decrease in Bcl-2 and an increase in caspase-3 expression. Additionally, the expression of NF-κB p65 and its downstream inflammatory factors TGF-β and IL-6 in the HO-1 overexpression group was significantly decreased compared with the control group. Therefore, the present study provided evidence that HO-1 serves an anti-fibrosis role in the liver by enhancing HSC apoptosis, which was partially associated with the regulation of NF-κB and its downstream effectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-299
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental and Therapeutic Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Apoptosis
  • Heme oxygenase-1
  • Hepatic stellate cells
  • Nuclear factor-κB
  • Proliferation
  • α-smooth muscle actin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)
  • Cancer Research

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