Published online Feb 6, 2012. doi: 10.5527/wjn.v1.i1.4
Revised: October 27, 2011
Accepted: December 27, 2011
Published online: February 6, 2012
Renal insults are considered a public health problem and are linked to increased rates of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The heme oxygenase (HO) system consists of evolutionary specialized machinery that degrades free heme and produces carbon monoxide, biliverdin and free iron. In this sense, the inducible isoform HO-1 seems to develop an important role and is widely studied. The reaction involved with the HO-1 molecule provides protection to injured tissue, directly by reducing the toxic heme molecule and indirectly by the release of its byproducts. The up regulation of HO-1 enzyme has largely been described as providing antioxidant, antiapoptotic, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. Several works have explored the importance of HO-1 in renal diseases and they have provided consistent evidence that its overexpression has beneficial effects in such injuries. So, in this review we will focus on the role of HO-1 in kidney insults, exploring the protective effects of its up regulation and the enhanced deleterious effects of its inhibition or gene deletion.