Expression of heme oxygenase in the oxygen-sensing regions of the rostral ventrolateral medulla

Emilio Mazza, Smita Thakkar-Varia, Carol A. Tozzi, Judith A. Neubauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Recently, unique regions in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) have been found to be oxygen sensitive. However, the mechanism of sensing oxygen in these RVLM regions is unknown. Because heme oxygenase (HO) has been shown to be involved in the hypoxic responses of the carotid body and pulmonary artery, the aim of this study was to determine whether HO is present in the RVLM and whether expression of HO is altered by chronic hypoxia. Adult rats were exposed to hypoxia (10% O2) or normoxia (21% O2) for 10 days, and the mRNA for HO-1 and HO-2 was examined in the RVLM by using RT-PCR. Expression of HO-2 mRNA was seen in the RVLM of both control and hypoxic samples, whereas expression of HO-1 mRNA was only seen in the RVLM of hypoxic samples. HO-2 was immunocytochemically localized in brain sections (40 μm) to the C1 region and pre-Bötzinger complex of the RVLM. Together, these results indicate that HO-2 is present in the RVLM under control conditions and that HO-1 is induced in the RVLM during chronic hypoxia, consistent with a potential role for HO in the oxygen-sensing function of these cardiorespiratory RVLM regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


  • Chronic hypoxia
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Oxygen chemosensitivity
  • Respiration
  • Sympathetic


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