Pharmacological Inhibition of Host Heme Oxygenase-1 Suppresses Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection In Vivo by a Mechanism Dependent on T Lymphocytes.

mBio, Volume: 7, Issue: 5
October 25, 2016
Diego L Costa DL, Sivaranjani Namasivayam S, Eduardo P Amaral EP, Kriti Arora K, Alex Chao A, Lara R Mittereder LR, Mamoudou Maiga M, Helena I Boshoff HI, Clifton E Barry CE, Celia W Goulding CW, Bruno B Andrade BB, Alan Sher A

Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is a stress response antioxidant enzyme which catalyzes the degradation of heme released during inflammation. HO-1 expression is upregulated in both experimental and human Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, and in patients it is a biomarker of active disease. Whether the enzyme plays a protective versus pathogenic role in tuberculosis has been the subject of debate. To address this controversy, we administered tin protoporphyrin IX (SnPPIX), a well-characterized HO-1 enzymatic inhibitor, to mice during acute M. tuberculosis infection. These SnPPIX-treated animals displayed a substantial reduction in pulmonary bacterial loads comparable to that achieved following conventional antibiotic therapy. Moreover, when administered adjunctively with antimycobacterial drugs, the HO-1 inhibitor markedly enhanced and accelerated pathogen clearance. Interestingly, both the pulmonary induction of HO-1 expression and the efficacy of SnPPIX treatment in reducing bacterial burden were dependent on the presence of host T lymphocytes. Although M. tuberculosis expresses its own heme-degrading enzyme, SnPPIX failed to inhibit its enzymatic activity or significantly restrict bacterial growth in liquid culture. Together, the above findings reveal mammalian HO-1 as a potential target for host-directed monotherapy and adjunctive therapy of tuberculosis and identify the immune response as a critical regulator of this function.