Haemolytic events, such as those following rhabdomyolysis and subarachnoid haemorrhage, often result in pathological complications such as vasoconstriction. Haem-protein cross-linked myoglobin and haemoglobin are generated by ferric-ferryl redox cycling, and thus can be used as markers of oxidative stress. We have found haem-protein cross-linked myoglobin in the urine of patients suffering from rhabdomyolysis and haem-protein cross-linked haemoglobin in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients following subarachnoid haemorrhage. These findings provide strong evidence that these respiratory haem proteins can be involved in powerful oxidation processes in vivo. We have previously proposed that these oxidation processes in rhabdomyolysis include the formation of potent vasoconstrictor molecules, generated by the myoglobin-catalysed oxidation of membranes, inducing nephrotoxicity and renal failure. Haem-protein cross-linked haemoglobin in cerebrospinal fluid suggests that a similar mechanism of lipid oxidation is present and that this may provide a mechanistic basis for the delayed vasospasm that follows subarachnoid haemorrhage.

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