Biofluid Specificity of Long Non-Coding RNA Profile in Hypertension: Relevance of Exosomal Fraction

Extracellular Vesicles

Non-coding RNA (ncRNA)-mediated targeting of various genes regulates the molecular mechanisms of the pathogenesis of hypertension (HTN). However, very few circulating long ncRNAs (lncRNAs) have been reported to be altered in essential HTN. The aim of our study was to identify a lncRNA profile in plasma and plasma exosomes associated with urinary albumin excretion in HTN by next-generation sequencing and to assess biological functions enriched in response to albuminuria using GO and KEGG analysis. Plasma exosomes showed higher diversity and fold change of lncRNAs than plasma, and low transcript overlapping was found between the two biofluids. Enrichment analysis identified different biological pathways regulated in plasma or exosome fraction, which were implicated in fatty acid metabolism, extracellular matrix, and mechanisms of sorting ncRNAs into exosomes, while plasma pathways were implicated in genome reorganization, interference with RNA polymerase, and as scaffolds for assembling transcriptional regulators. Our study found a biofluid specific lncRNA profile associated with albuminuria, with higher diversity in exosomal fraction, which identifies several potential targets that may be utilized to study mechanisms of albuminuria and cardiovascular damage.

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Cigarette smoke (CS) represents one of the most relevant environmental risk factors for several chronic pathologies. Tissue damage caused by CS exposure is mediated, at least in part, by oxidative stress induced by its toxic and pro-oxidant components. Evidence demonstrates that extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by various cell types exposed to CS extract (CSE) are characterized by altered biochemical cargo and gained pathological properties. In the present study, we evaluated the content of oxidized proteins and phospholipid fatty acid profiles of EVs released by human bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B cells treated with CSE. This specific molecular characterization has hitherto not been performed. After confirmation that CSE reduces viability of BEAS-2B cells and elevates intracellular ROS levels, in a dose-dependent manner, we demonstrated that 24 h exposure at 1% CSE, a concentration that only slight modifies cell viability but increases ROS levels, was able to increase carbonylated protein levels in cells and released EVs. The release of oxidatively modified proteins via EVs might represent a mechanism used by cells to remove toxic proteins in order to avoid their intracellular overloading. Moreover, 1% CSE induced only few changes in the fatty acid asset in BEAS-2B cell membrane phospholipids, whereas several rearrangements were observed in EVs released by CSE-treated cells. The impact of changes in acyl chain composition of CSE-EVs accounted for the increased saturation levels of phospholipids, a membrane parameter that might influence EV stability, uptake and, at least in part, EV-mediated biological effects. The present in vitro study adds new information concerning the biochemical composition of CSE-related EVs, useful to predict their biological effects on target cells. Furthermore, the information regarding the presence of oxidized proteins and the specific membrane features of CSE-related EVs can be useful to define the utilization of circulating EVs as marker for diagnosing of CS-induced lung damage and/or CS-related diseases.

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