Expression of heme oxygenase-1 is repressed by interferon-γ and induced by hypoxia in human retinal pigment epithelial cells

Reiko Udono-Fujimori, Kazuhiro Takahashi, Kazuhisa Takeda, Kazumichi Furuyama, Kiriko Kaneko, Shigeru Takahashi, Makoto Tamai, Shigeki Shibahara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is essential for maintenance of photoreceptors and normally functions under conditions enriched with reactive oxygen species. RPE therefore expresses various defense enzymes against oxidative stress, including heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). HO-1 catalyzes heme breakdown to release iron, carbon monoxide, and biliverdin, which is reduced to bilirubin, a potent radical scavenger. HO-1 expression is induced by various environmental factors, which has been established as a defense mechanism. To explore the hypothesis that the expression level of HO-1 is reduced in those RPE cells under certain conditions, we analyzed the effects of interferon-γ and hypoxia, each of which represses the expression of HO-1 mRNA in other types of human cells. Expression levels of HO-1 mRNA were reduced by interferon-γ in two human RPE cell lines, D407 and ARPE-19, which was consistently associated with the induction of mRNA for Bach1, a transcriptional repressor for the HO-1 gene. On the other hand, HO-1 and Bach1 mRNAs were induced by hypoxia in D407 cells but remained unchanged in ARPE-19 cells, suggesting that Bach1 is not a sole regulator for HO-1 expression. The hypoxia-mediated induction of HO-1 mRNA in D407 cells depends on gene transcription and protein synthesis, as judged by the effects of their inhibitors. The half-life of HO-1 mRNA did not change during hypoxia. Thus, hypoxia may increase transcription of the HO-1 gene through a certain protein factor in RPE cells. These results indicate that RPE cells maintain retinal homeostasis by repressing or inducing the expression of HO-1, depending on the microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3076-3084
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Jul


  • Heme oxygenase-1
  • Hypoxia
  • Interferon-γ
  • Oxidative stress
  • Retinal pigment epithelium


Dive into the research topics of 'Expression of heme oxygenase-1 is repressed by interferon-γ and induced by hypoxia in human retinal pigment epithelial cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this