Infection and injury are frequently accompanied by hemolysis. Endothelial cells are direct targets of free Hb or its oxidative derivatives, including methemoglobin (MHb) and hemin. This study tested whether Hb or its derivatives alter chemokine (IL-8) and cytokine (IL-6) production and the membrane expression of cell adhesion molecule (E-selectin) in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (passages 2-4, HUVECs). E-selectin membrane content and IL-6 and IL-8 release were quantified by ELISA; cellular mRNA levels were determined by RT-PCR. MHb in vitro resulted in a dose (1-50 μM)- and time (2-16 h)-dependent increase in E-selectin membrane content and IL-6 and IL-8 release in HUVECs. The stimulatory effect of MHb (12 μM) on E-selectin membrane expression and IL-6 and IL-8 release was similar to that produced after treatment with TNF-α (5 ng/ml) and IL-1β (0.25 ng/ml). In contrast, Hb or hemin had no effects. As expected, MHb, Hb, and hemin markedly induced heme oxygenase-1 expression in HUVECs. Haptoglobin, cytochalasin D, and actinomycin inhibited the MHb-induced responses, whereas zinc protoporphyrin IX (a heme oxygenase inhibitor) or desferroxamine (an iron chelator) did not inhibit MHb-induced responses. MHb also increased cellular mRNA levels of E-selectin, IL-6, and IL-8. MHb treatment activated cellular NF-κB and NF-κB inhibitors; N-acetyl cysteine, SN50, and caffeic acid phenylethyl ester inhibited the MHb-induced responses. These data indicate that MHb is a potent activator of endothelial cells through NF-κB-mediated upregulation of cell adhesion molecule expression and chemokine and cytokine production. MHb-induced endothelial cell activation may have clinical significance after infections, hemolysis, or methemoglobinemia.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology
- Adhesion molecule
- Human umbilical vein endothelial cells
- Nuclear factor-κB