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Biology of Heme in Health and Disease

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Abstract:

Heme is an essential molecule with contradictory biological functions. In hemoproteins such as hemoglobin and cytochromes protein-bound heme is a prosthetic group serving physiological functions as a transporter for oxygen and electrons. On the other hand free heme can have deleterious effects by generating reactive oxygen species that cause oxidative stress. Consequently, heme homeostasis of the cell must be tightly controlled. The biosynthesis of heme is catalyzed by eight enzymes that are differentially regulated in liver and erythroid cells. Recent findings on proinflammatory functions of heme and its role in the pathogenesis of diseases, such as rhabdomyolysis or atherosclerosis are summarized. The regulation of gene expression by heme in yeast and mammalian cells and the underlying molecular mechanisms are presented. Finally, we discuss the functional significance of the heme-degrading enzyme heme oxygenase and hemebinding proteins for the regulation of heme homeostasis.

Keywords: cytochromes protein-bound heme; heme; heme homeostasis

Document Type: Review Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/0929867043455521

Affiliations: Institut fur Klinische Chemie und Pathobiochemie, Justus-Liebig-Universitat Giessen, Gaffkystr. 11C, 35392 Giessen, Germany.

Publication date: April 1, 2004

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.

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