Carbon monoxide protects against hyperoxia-induced endothelial cell apoptosis by inhibiting reactive oxygen species formation.
Heme Oxygenase (Decyclizing)
bcl-2-Associated X Protein
Reactive Oxygen Species
Hyperoxia causes cell injury and death associated with reactive oxygen species formation and inflammatory responses. Recent studies show that hyperoxia-induced cell death involves apoptosis, necrosis, or mixed phenotypes depending on cell type, although the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Using murine lung endothelial cells, we found that hyperoxia caused cell death by apoptosis involving both extrinsic (Fas-dependent) and intrinsic (mitochondria-dependent) pathways. Hyperoxia-dependent activation of the extrinsic apoptosis pathway and formation of the death-inducing signaling complex required NADPH oxidase-dependent reactive oxygen species production, because this process was attenuated by chemical inhibition, as well as by genetic deletion of the p47(phox) subunit, of the oxidase. Overexpression of heme oxygenase-1 prevented hyperoxia-induced cell death and cytochrome c release. Likewise, carbon monoxide, at low concentrations, markedly inhibited hyperoxia-induced endothelial cell death by inhibiting cytochrome c release and caspase-9/3 activation. Carbon monoxide, by attenuating hyperoxia-induced reactive oxygen species production, inhibited extrinsic apoptosis signaling initiated by death-inducing signal complex trafficking from the Golgi apparatus to the plasma membrane and downstream activation of caspase-8. We also found that carbon monoxide inhibited the hyperoxia-induced activation of Bcl-2-related proteins involved in both intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic signaling. Carbon monoxide inhibited the activation of Bid and the expression and mitochondrial translocation of Bax, whereas promoted Bcl-X(L)/Bax interaction and increased Bad phosphorylation. We also show that carbon monoxide promoted an interaction of heme oxygenase-1 with Bax. These results define novel mechanisms underlying the antiapoptotic effects of carbon monoxide during hyperoxic stress.