Arsenic promotes angiogenesis in vitro via a heme oxygenase-1-dependent mechanism

Dan Meng, Xin Wang, Qingshan Chang, Andrew Hitron, Zhuo Zhang, Mei Xu, Gang Chen, Jia Luo, Binghua Jiang, Jing Fang, Xianglin Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Angiogenesis and vessel remodeling are fundamental to the pathogenesis of a number of diseases caused by environmental arsenic exposure, including tumorigenesis and cardiovascular diseases. Arsenic (AsIII) has been shown to stimulate angiogenesis and vascular remodeling in vivo. However, the exact molecular mechanisms accounting for arsenic-induced angiogenesis are not clear. The present study investigates the role of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) in sodium arsenite-mediated angiogenesis in vitro. Transwell assay, three-dimensional Matrigel assay, RT-PCR, ELISA and immunoblotting were used to determine cell migration, vascular tube formation, mRNA and protein expression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and luciferase assay were applied to examine the DNA binding with protein and HO-1 transcriptional activity. Here, we report that low concentrations of arsenite (0.1-1 μM) stimulated cell migration and vascular tube formation in human microvascular endothelial cells (HMVEC). Arsenite induced HO-1 mRNA and protein expression. Knock down of HO-1 expression decreased arsenite-induced VEGF expression, cell migration, and tube formation. We showed that arsenite promoted dissociation of Bach1 (a transcriptional repressor) from the HO-1 enhancers and increased Nrf2 binding to these elements. Site directed mutagenesis assay identified that Bach1 cysteine residues 557 and 574 were essential for the induction of HO-1 gene in response to arsenite. These findings demonstrate a role for HO-1 in arsenite-mediated angiogenesis in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-299
Number of pages9
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the technical assistance of Hong Lin. This research was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R01CA119028-01 , R01CA116697-01A2, R01ES015375-01 , and R01ES015518-01A1 . Dan Meng was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China ( No.30600245 ). The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of K.C.Wong Education Foundation, Hong Kong, China.


  • Angiogenesis
  • Arsenic
  • Bach1
  • Endothelial
  • Heme oxygenase 1
  • Nrf2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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