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Emerging evidence supports an important role for the heme oxygenase system in the maintenance of a healthy pregnancy. This review attempts to collect these wide-ranging data and summarize the recent progress in the field. New studies looking at heme oxygenase depletion in a variety of animal models have demonstrated that the heme oxygenase system is an important regulator of placental development, particularly in vascular structure. Furthermore, emerging studies demonstrate a role for heme oxygenase in the maintenance of pregnancy, especially during pathological challenge. Intriguingly, it now appears that the heme oxygenase system can be dramatically altered by pathological disorders of pregnancy, in particular preeclampsia, perhaps functionally in the symptomatic phase of the disorder. Promisingly, however, recent data suggest that induction of the heme oxygenase system, or administration of its bioactive metabolites, could provide a promising novel therapeutic approach to the management of this currently untreatable disease. Long considered a molecular housekeeping system, the heme oxygenase system is now known to be an important stress response pathway. New evidence suggests that it is also an important player in pregnancy and preeclampsia. However, the evidence now also suggests that it may provide a therapeutic approach for this common disease with few management options.

Citation

Eric M George, Joey P Granger. Heme oxygenase in pregnancy and preeclampsia. Current opinion in nephrology and hypertension. 2013 Mar;22(2):156-62

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PMID: 23328500

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