Natural heme oxygenase-1 inducers in hepatobiliary function

Giovanni Li Volti, David Sacerdoti, Claudia Di Giacomo, Maria Luisa Barcellona, Antonio Scacco, Paolo Murabito, Antonio Biondi, Francesco Basile, Diego Gazzolo, Raul Abella, Alessandro Frigiola, Fabio Galvano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many physiological effects of natural antioxidants, their extracts or their major active components, have been reported in recent decades. Most of these compounds are characterized by a phenolic structure, similar to that of α-tocopherol, and present antioxidant properties that have been demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo. Polyphenols may increase the capacity of endogenous antioxidant defences and modulate the cellular redox state. Changes in the cellular redox state may have wide-ranging consequences for cellular growth and differentiation. The majority of in vitro and in vivo studies conducted so far have attributed the protective effect of bioactive polyphenols to their chemical reactivity toward free radicals and their capacity to prevent the oxidation of important intracellular components. However, in recent years a possible novel aspect in the mode of action of these compounds has been suggested; that is, the ultimate stimulation of the heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) pathway is likely to account for the established and powerful antioxidant/anti-inflammatory properties of these polyphenols. The products of the HO-catalyzed reaction, particularly carbon monoxide (CO) and biliverdin/bilirubin have been shown to exert protective effects in several organs against oxidative and other noxious stimuli. In this context, it is interesting to note that induction of HO-1 expression by means of natural compounds contributes to protection against liver damage in various experimental models. The focus of this review is on the significance of targeted induction of HO-1 as a potential therapeutic strategy to protect the liver against various stressors in several pathological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6122-6132
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number40
Publication statusPublished - Oct 28 2008


  • Carbon monoxide
  • Heme oxygenase
  • Hepatobiliary function
  • Natural inducers
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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