Electronic-cigarette (e-cig) usage, particularly in the youth population, is a growing concern. It is known that e-cig causes endothelial dysfunction, which is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases; however, the mechanisms involved remain unclear. We hypothesized that long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) may play a role in e-cig-induced endothelial dysfunction.
Here, we identified lncRNAs that are dysregulated in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells (iPSC-ECs) following 24 h of e-cig aerosol extract treatment via microarray analysis. We performed Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genome (KEGG) pathway analyses of the dysregulated mRNAs following e-cig exposure and constructed co-expression networks of the top 5 upregulated lncRNAs and the top 5 downregulated lncRNAs and the mRNAs that are correlated with them. Furthermore, the functional effects of knocking down lncRNA lung cancer-associated transcript 1 (LUCAT1) on EC phenotypes were determined as it was one of the significantly upregulated lncRNAs following e-cig exposure based on our profiling.
183 lncRNAs and 132 mRNAs were found to be upregulated, whereas 297 lncRNAs and 413 mRNAs were found to be downregulated after e-cig exposure. We also observed that e-cig caused dysregulation of endothelial metabolism resulting in increased FAO activity, higher mitochondrial membrane potential, and decreased glucose uptake and glycolysis. These results suggest that e-cig alters EC metabolism by increasing FAO to compensate for energy deficiency in ECs. Finally, the knockdown of LUCAT1 prevented e-cig-induced EC dysfunction by maintaining vascular barrier, reducing reactive oxygen species level, and increasing migration capacity.
This study identifies an expression profile of differentially expressed lncRNAs and several potential regulators and pathways in ECs exposed to e-cig, which provide insights into the regulation of lncRNAs and mRNAs and the role of lncRNA and mRNA networks in ECs associated e-cig exposure.