Atherosclerosis is a multifactorial disease that preferentially develops in specific regions in the arterial tree. This characteristic is mainly attributed to the unique pattern of hemodynamic shear stress in vivo. High laminar shear stress (LS) found in straight lumen exerts athero-protective effects. Low or oscillatory shear stress (OS) present in regions of lesser curvature and arterial bifurcations predisposes arterial intima to atherosclerosis. Shear stress-regulated endothelial function plays an important role in the process of atherosclerosis. Most in vitro research studies focusing on the molecular mechanisms of endothelial function are performed in endothelial cells (ECs) under cultured static (ST) condition. Some findings, however, are not recapitulated in subsequent translational studies, mostly likely due to the missing biomechanical milieu. Here, we profiled the whole transcriptome of primary human coronary arterial endothelial cells (HCAECs) under different shear stress conditions with RNA sequencing. Among 16,313 well-expressed genes, we detected 8,177 that were differentially expressed in OS vs. LS conditions and 9,369 in ST vs. LS conditions. Notably, only 1,618 were differentially expressed in OS vs. ST conditions. Hierarchical clustering of ECs demonstrated a strong similarity between ECs under OS and ST conditions at the transcriptome level. Subsequent pairwise heat mapping and principal component analysis gave further weight to the similarity. At the individual gene level, expressional analysis of representative well-known genes as well as novel genes showed a comparable amount at mRNA and protein levels in ECs under ST and OS conditions. In conclusion, the present work compared the whole transcriptome of HCAECs under different shear stress conditions at the transcriptome level as well as at the individual gene level. We found that cultured ECs are significantly different from those under LS conditions. Thus using cells under ST conditions is unlikely to elucidate endothelial physiology. Given the revealed high similarities of the endothelial transcriptome under OS and ST conditions, it may be helpful to understand the underlying mechanisms of OS-induced endothelial dysfunction from static cultured endothelial studies.
- endothelial cells
- shear stress
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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