Protection from Ischemic Heart Injury by a Vigilant Heme Oxygenase-1 Plasmid System

Yao Liang Tang, Yi Tang, Y. Clare Zhang, Keping Qian, Leping Shen, M. Ian Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Although human heme oxygenase-1 (hHO-1) could provide a useful approach for cellular protection in the ischemic heart, constitutive overexpression of hHO-1 may lead to unwanted side effects. To avoid this, we designed a hypoxia-regulated hHO-1 gene therapy system that can be switched on and off. This vigilant plasmid system is composed of myosin light chain-2v promoter and a gene switch that is based on an oxygen-dependent degradation domain from the hypoxia inducible factor-1-α. The vector can sense ischemia and switch on the hHO-1 gene system, specifically in the heart. In an in vivo experiment, the vigilant hHO-1 plasmid or saline was injected intramyocardially into myocardial infarction mice or sham operation mice. After gene transfer, expression of hHO-1 was only detected in the ischemic heart treated with vigilant hHO-1 plasmids. Masson trichrome staining showed significantly fewer fibrotic areas in vigilant hHO-1 plasmids-treated mice compared with saline control (43.0%±4.8% versus 62.5%±3.3%, P<0.01). The reduction of interstitial fibrosis is accompanied by an increase in myocardial hHO-1 expression in peri-infarct border areas, concomitant with higher Bcl-2 levels and lower Bax, Bak, and caspase 3 levels in the ischemic myocardium compared with saline control. By use of a cardiac catheter, heart from vigilant hHO-1 plasmids-treated mice showed improved recovery of contractile and diastolic performance after myocardial infarction compared with saline control. This study documents the beneficial regulation and therapeutic potential of vigilant plasmid-mediated hHO-I gene transfer. This novel gene transfer strategy can provide cardiac-specific protection from future repeated bouts of ischemic injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)746-751
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Genes
  • Heart
  • Ischemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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