Hyperglycemia is a major risk factor in the development of diabetic complications and promotes vascular complications through dysregulation of endothelial cell function. Various mechanisms have been proposed for endothelial cell dysregulation but the early transcriptomic alterations of endothelial cells under hyperglycemic conditions are not well documented. Here we use deep time-series RNA-seq profiling of human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs) following exposure to normal (NG) and high glucose (HG) conditions over a time course from baseline to 24 h to identify the early and transient transcriptomic changes, alteration of molecular networks, and their temporal dynamics. The analysis revealed that the most significant pathway activation/inhibition events take place in the 1- to 4-h transition and identified distinct clusters of genes that underlie a cascade of coordinated transcriptional events unique to HG conditions. Temporal co-expression and causal network analysis implicate the activation of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and growth factor signalling pathways including STAT3 and NF-κB. These results document HAEC transcriptional changes induced by hyperglycemic conditions and provide basic insight into the rapid molecular alterations that promote endothelial cell dysfunction.
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