Lung injuries are generally more serious and cause high mortality in aged humans and animals. Heme Oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is known to be readily inducible in alveolar macrophages (AMs) and airway epithelial cells to confer cytoprotection against oxidative stress. We thus investigated whether aging impairs the stress-induced upregulation of HO-1. In this study, we first quantified basal levels of HO-1 expression in lungs from male ICR mice of various ages. Second, young (9-11 weeks) and old (65-66 weeks) mice were subjected to intratracheal administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and expression of HO-1 in the lungs was quantified at 2, 24 and 72 h. HO-1 expression in bronchiolar epithelial cells harvested by laser capture microdissection (LCM) was also specifically quantified in the two age groups. Third, we examined HO-1 expression in AMs lavaged from 22-week-old and 86-96-week-old male ICR mice in response to LPS for 24 h in vitro. We found that basal expression of HO-1 in the lungs did not differ with age. LPS-induced HO-1 upregulation was significantly impaired in the lungs of 65-66-week-old mice than in 9-11-week-old mice at 2 and 24 h, although there were no differences in the magnitude of HO-1 upregulation in bronchiolar epithelium at 2 h. LPS-induced upregulation of HO-1 was observed in AMs from 22-week-old mice (1.8-fold), but not in AMs from 86-96-week-old mice in vitro. In summary, we demonstrated age-related defects in HO-1 induction in the whole lungs and in AMs in response to LPS.
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