Role of NRF2 in protection against hyperoxic lung injury in mice

Hye Youn Cho, Anne E. Jedlicka, Sekhar P.M. Reddy, Thomas W. Kensler, Masayuki Yamamoto, Liu Yi Zhang, Steven R. Kleeberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

561 Scopus citations


NRF2 is a transcription factor important in the protection against carcinogenesis and oxidative stress through antioxidant response element (ARE)-mediated transcriptional activation of several phase 2 detoxifying and antioxidant enzymes. This study was designed to determine the role of NRF2 in the pathogenesis of hyperoxic lung injury by comparing pulmonary responses to 95-98% oxygen between mice with site-directed mutation of the gene for NRF2 (Nrf2-/-) and wildtype mice (Nrf2+/+). Pulmonary hyperpermeability, macrophage inflammation, and epithelial injury in Nrf2-/- mice were 7.6-fold, 47%, and 43% greater, respectively, compared with Nrf2+/+ mice after 72 h hyperoxia exposure. Hyperoxia markedly elevated the expression of NRF2 mRNA and DNA-binding activity of NRF2 in the lungs of Nrf2+/+ mice. mRNA expression for ARE-responsive lung antioxidant and phase 2 enzymes was evaluated in both genotypes of mice to identify potential downstream molecular mechanisms of NRF2 in hyperoxic lung responses. Hyperoxia-induced mRNA levels of NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1), glutathione-S-transferase (GST)-Ya and -Yc subunits, UDP glycosyl transferase (UGT), glutathione peroxidase-2 (GPx2), and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) were significantly lower in Nrf2-/- mice compared with Nrf2+/+ mice. Consistent with differential mRNA expression, NQO1 and total GST activities were significantly lower in Nrf2-/- mice compared with Nrf2+/+ mice after hyperoxia. Results demonstrated that NRF2 has a significant protective role against pulmonary hyperoxic injury in mice, possibly through transcriptional activation of lung antioxidant defense enzymes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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