Increased heme catabolism in critically ill patients: Correlation among exhaled carbon monoxide, arterial carboxyhemoglobin, and serum bilirubin IXα concentrations

Hiroshi Morimatsu, Toru Takahashi, Kyoichiro Maeshima, Kazuyoshi Inoue, Tomoko Kawakami, Hiroko Shimizu, Mamoru Takeuchi, Masataka Yokoyama, Hiroshi Katayama, Kiyoshi Morita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)


It has been reported that exhaled carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations and arterial carboxyhemoglobin (CO-Hb) concentration in blood may be increased in critically ill patients. However, there was no study that examined correlation among amount of CO in exhaled air, CO-Hb concentrations in erythrocytes, and bilirubin IXα (BR) in serum, i.e., the three major indexes of heme catabolism, within the same subject. Here, we examined CO concentrations in exhaled air, CO-Hb concentrations in arterial blood, and BR levels in serum in 29 critically ill patients. Measurements of exhaled CO, arterial CO-Hb, and serum total BR have been done in the intensive care unit. As control, exhaled CO concentration was also measured in eight healthy volunteers. A median exhaled CO concentration was significantly higher in critically ill patients compared with control. There was significant correlation between CO and CO-Hb and CO and total BR level. We also found CO concentrations correlated with indirect BR but not direct BR. Multivariate linear regression analysis for amount of exhaled CO concentrations also showed significant correlation with CO-Hb and total BR, despite the fact that respiratory variables of study subjects were markedly heterogeneous. We found no correlation among exhaled CO, patients' severity, and degree of inflammation, but we found a strong trend of a higher exhaled CO concentration in survivors than in nonsurvivors. These findings suggest there is an increased heme breakdown in critically ill patients and that exhaled CO concentration, arterial CO-Hb, and serum total BR concentrations may be useful markers in critically ill conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L114-L119
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2006



  • Heme oxygenase
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology

Cite this