Endogenous zinc protoporphyrin formation critically contributes to hemorrhagic stroke-induced brain damage. Academic Article uri icon


  • Hemorrhagic stroke is a leading cause of death. The causes of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH)-induced brain damage are thought to include lysis of red blood cells, hemin release and iron overload. These mechanisms, however, have not proven very amenable to therapeutic intervention, and so other mechanistic targets are being sought. Here we report that accumulation of endogenously formed zinc protoporphyrin (ZnPP) also critically contributes to ICH-induced brain damage. ICH caused a significant accumulation of ZnPP in brain tissue surrounding hematoma, as evidenced by fluorescence microscopy of ZnPP, and further confirmed by fluorescence spectroscopy and supercritical fluid chromatography-mass spectrometry. ZnPP formation was dependent upon both ICH-induced hypoxia and an increase in free zinc accumulation. Notably, inhibiting ferrochelatase, which catalyzes insertion of zinc into protoporphyrin, greatly decreased ICH-induced endogenous ZnPP generation. Moreover, a significant decrease in brain damage was observed upon ferrochelatase inhibition, suggesting that endogenous ZnPP contributes to the damage in ICH. Our findings reveal a novel mechanism of ICH-induced brain damage through ferrochelatase-mediated formation of ZnPP in ICH tissue. Since ferrochelatase can be readily inhibited by small molecules, such as protein kinase inhibitors, this may provide a promising new and druggable target for ICH therapy.

publication date

  • June 2021