Heme is an ancient and ubiquitous molecule, which plays much more important role than just
a mere oxygen-binding co-factor in hemoglobin.  
Heme is vital for many crucial enzymes and mitochondrial electron transport chain but can be deadly when overabundant. We study how aging changes heme synthesis, trafficking, and degradation, with a special focus on vascular and hematopoietic cells. We want to better understand what heme does in the nucleus and if it influences the genomic stability. Porphyrin ring can stabilize G-quadruplex (G4) structures in DNA. We study if increased heme levels in the nucleus or decreased heme degradation can stabilize G4 in living cells. Heme synthesis starts with glycine and succinyl-CoA, which both are important cellular metabolites. We wish to know how free heme availability affects cellular metabolism and in turn influences the cellular homeostasis.



Group Leader

Witold Nowak


Wojciech Krzeptowski

PhD Students

Patryk Chudy

Undergrad Students

Mateusz Pędracki

Phu Nguyen

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  • ResearchGate
  • ORCiD
  • Heme and G-quadruplexes: an overlooked function of heme oxygenases?

  • DNA repair in hematopoietic stem cells: what is a role of nuclear heme oxygenase-1?


  • we showed that murine bone marrow MSCs are highly resistant to heme even without heme oxygenases 

  • we demonstrated that paracrine proangiogenic activity of human CD34+ HSPC is stimulated by atorvastatin only in vitro but not in vivo

  • together with dr. Paweł Lipiński and dr. Małgorzata Lenartowicz teams we contributed to finding that the kidneys play a role in iron detoxification and redistribution in neonatal mice

  • we contributed to the research on effects of cellular metabolism on differentiation of perivascular fat progenitor cells 


  • measurement of free heme with fluorescent sensor

  • measurement of total heme

  • guide-wire injury model

  • proximity ligation assay

  • DNA fibre assay

  • en face staining of mouse aortas

  • isolation of perivascular fat progenitor cells

  • analysis of cellular metabolic phenotype using SeaHorse

  • analysis of metabolomics data with Metaboanalyst

  • analysis of bulk and single cell RNASeq data

  • isolation of primary murine bone marrow stromal cells