Intermittent and sustained hypoxia induce a similar gene expression profile in human aortic endothelial cells

Vsevolod Y. Polotsky, Vladimir Savransky, Shannon Bevans-Fonti, Christian Reinke, Jianguo Li, Dmitry N. Grigoryev, Larissa A. Shimoda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Obstructive sleep apnea may cause vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis, which has been attributed to intermittent hypoxia (IH). Recent data suggest that IH, but not sustained hypoxia (SH), activates proinflammatory genes in HeLa cells. Effects of IH and SH on the gene expression profile in human aortic endothelial cells (HAEC) have not been compared. We perfused media with alternating flow of 16% and 0% O2 (IH) or constant flow of 4% O2 (SH-4%), 8% O2 (SH-8%), or 16% O2 (control) for 8 h. Illumina gene microarrays were performed, with subsequent verification by real-time PCR. Proinflammatory cytokines in the media were measured by ELISA. Both IH and SH-4% upregulated proinflammatory genes, including heat shock protein 90-kDa B1, tumor necrosis factor superfamily member 4, and thrombospondin 1. Among all proinflammatory genes, only IL-8 mRNA showed significantly higher levels of expression (1.78-fold) during IH, compared with SH-4%, but both types of hypoxic exposure elicited striking three- to eightfold increases in IL-8 and IL-6 protein levels in the media. IH and SH-4% also upregulated antioxidant genes, including heme oxygenase-1 and nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (NRF2), whereas classical genes regulated by hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1), such as endothelin and glucose transporter GLUT1, were not induced. SH-8% induced changes in gene expression and cytokine secretion that were similar to those of IH and SH-4%. In conclusion, short exposures to IH and SH upregulate proinflammatory and antioxidant genes in HAEC and increase secretion of proinflammatory cytokines IL-8 and IL-6 into media in similar fashions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-314
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological Genomics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Gene microarrays
  • Heme oxygenase-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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