Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is a major anti-inflammatory enzyme and a key regulator that induces immune tolerance through affecting the differentiation of dendritic cells. The aim of this study is to determine whether the combination of 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) and iron induces HO-1 expression in healthy human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC).
The study was an open labeled, non-randomized, non-placebo-controlled trial using healthy male adults and consisted of three parts. Study A aimed to find the peak HO-1 expression at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, and 24 h after administration. Study B aimed to examine HO-1 dose dependency at 150, 300, and 600 mg of ALA and the need for iron supplementation. Study C aimed to investigate HO-1 changes during a three-day, repetitive administration of ALA and iron.
The combination of ALA 600 mg and sodium ferrous citrate (SFC) 942 mg upregulated HO-1 in PBMC at 8 h after administration while sole administration of ALA or SFC was unable to induce HO-1. HO-1 in blood myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells was also upregulated with ALA+SFC. Clear dose dependency of ALA+SFC was not detected, and a slight tendency towards a cumulative effect of HO-1 after three-day, repetitive administration was observed.
ALA, which is already approved for use in several countries as a diagnosis agent for cancer, has the potential to become a novel therapeutic drug for diseases stemming from unwanted immune response such as autoimmune diseases and the rejection response following organ transplantation.