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Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Jun 2023 - 30 Jun 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, In Vitro Studies, Molecular/Cellular

2023 Jun 03

Antioxidants (Basel)




High Heme and Low Heme Oxygenase-1 Are Associated with Mast Cell Activation/Degranulation in HIV-Induced Chronic Widespread Pain.


Chatterjee T, Arora I, Underwood L, Gryshyna A, Lewis TL, Masjoan Juncos JX, Goodin BR, Heath S, Aggarwal S


An overwhelming number of people with HIV (PWH) experience chronic widespread pain (CWP) throughout their lifetimes. Previously, we demonstrated that PWH with CWP have increased hemolysis and attenuated heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) levels. HO-1 degrades reactive, cell-free heme into antioxidants like biliverdin and carbon monoxide (CO). We found that high heme or low HO-1 caused hyperalgesia in animals, likely through multiple mechanisms. In this study, we hypothesized that high heme or low HO-1 caused mast cell activation/degranulation, resulting in the release of pain mediators like histamine and bradykinin. PWH who self-report CWP were recruited from the University of Alabama at Birmingham HIV clinic. Animal models included HO-1 mice and hemolytic mice, where C57BL/6 mice were injected intraperitoneally with phenylhydrazine hydrochloride (PHZ). Results demonstrated that plasma histamine and bradykinin were elevated in PWH with CWP. These pain mediators were also high in HO-1 mice and in hemolytic mice. Both in vivo and in vitro (RBL-2H3 mast cells), heme-induced mast cell degranulation was inhibited by treatment with CORM-A1, a CO donor. CORM-A1 also attenuated mechanical and thermal (cold) allodynia in hemolytic mice. Together, the data suggest that mast cell activation secondary to high heme or low HO-1 seen in cells and animals correlates with elevated plasma levels of heme, histamine, and bradykinin in PWH with CWP.