Effects of hemin on heme oxygenase-1, gastric emptying, and symptoms in diabetic gastroparesis

A. E. Bharucha, S. L. Daley, P. A. Low, S. J. Gibbons, K. M. Choi, M. Camilleri, J. J. Saw, G. Farrugia, A. R. Zinsmeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Therapeutic options for management of diabetic gastroparesis are limited. Failure to maintain upregulation of heme oxygenase (HO1) leads to loss of interstitial cells of Cajal and delayed gastric emptying (GE) in non-obese diabetic mice. Our hypothesis was that hemin upregulation of HO1 would restore normal GE in humans with gastroparesis. Aims: To compare effects of hemin and placebo infusions on HO1 activity and protein, GE, autonomic function, and gastrointestinal symptoms in diabetic gastroparesis. Methods: In a single-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial, we compared intravenous hemin, prepared in albumin, or albumin alone (placebo) in 20 patients, aged 41 ± 5 (SEM) years with diabetic gastroparesis. After infusions on days 1, 3, and 7, weekly infusions were administered for 7 additional weeks. Assessments included blood tests for HO1 protein and enzyme activity levels, GE with 13C-spirulina breath test, autonomic functions (baseline and end), and gastrointestinal symptoms every 2 weeks. Key Results: Nine of 11 patients randomized to hemin completed all study procedures. Compared to placebo, hemin increased HO1 protein on days 3 (p = 0.0002) and 7 (p = 0.008) and HO1 activity on day 3 (p = 0.0003) but not after. Gastric emptying, autonomic functions, and symptoms did not differ significantly in the hemin group relative to placebo. Conclusions & Inferences: Hemin failed to sustain increased HO1 levels beyond a week and did not improve GE or symptoms in diabetic gastroparesis. Further studies are necessary to ascertain whether more frequent hemin infusions or other drugs would have a more sustained effect on HO1 and improve GE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1731-1740
Number of pages10
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • HO1
  • heme oxygenase
  • hemin
  • humans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Gastroenterology


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