Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(7):946-952. doi:10.7150/ijms.42586 This issue

Research Paper

Piwi-interacting RNAs play a role in vitamin C-mediated effects on endothelial aging

Sulin Zheng1, Haoxiao Zheng1,2, Anqing Huang1, Linlin Mai1, Xiaohui Huang1, Yunzhao Hu1✉, Yuli Huang1✉

1. Department of cardiology, Shunde hospital, Southern Medical University (The first people's hospital of Shunde, Foshan), Guangdong, China
2. Second Medical College of Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China

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Zheng S, Zheng H, Huang A, Mai L, Huang X, Hu Y, Huang Y. Piwi-interacting RNAs play a role in vitamin C-mediated effects on endothelial aging. Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(7):946-952. doi:10.7150/ijms.42586. Available from

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The underlying mechanisms that mediate the effects of vitamin C on endothelial cell aging are widely unknown. To investigate whether Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are involved in this process, an endothelial aging model was induced in vitro using H2O2 in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and then treated with vitamin C (VC). Untreated HUVECs without H2O2 exposure were used to serve as the negative control group. Cell cycle, cell viability, and aging-associated protein expression were assessed, and RNA sequencing was performed to reveal the piRNA profile. Functional and regulatory networks of the different piRNA target genes were predicted by the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment and Gene Ontology (GO) analysis. H2O2 induced G1 phase cell arrest, decreased cell viability, and upregulated the senescence marker p16 in HUVECs. We found that VC treatment inhibited G1 phase cell arrest, increased the number of cells in the S and G2/M phases, increased cell viability, and decreased p16 expression. The piRNA expression profiles revealed that a large proportion of piRNAs that were differentially expressed in H2O2-treated HUVECs were partly normalized by VC. Furthermore, a number of piRNAs associated with the response to VC in H2O2-treated HUVECs were linked with senescence and cell cycle-related pathways and networks. These results indicate that the ability of VC to attenuate H2O2-mediated endothelial cell senescence may be associated with changes in expression of piRNAs that are linked to the cell cycle.

Keywords: aging, endothelial cells, vitamin C, Piwi-interacting RNAs