Background: Generalized arterial alterations, such as endothelial dysfunction, medial matrix accumulations, and calcifications are associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D). These changes may render the vessel wall more susceptible to injury; however, the molecular characteristics of such diffuse pre-atherosclerotic changes in diabetes are only superficially known.
Methods: To identify the molecular alterations of the generalized arterial disease in T2D, DNA microarrays were applied to examine gene expression changes in normal-appearing, non-atherosclerotic arterial tissue from 10 diabetic and 11 age-matched non-diabetic men scheduled for a coronary by-pass operation. Gene expression changes were integrated with GO-Elite, GSEA, and Cytoscape to identify significant biological pathways and networks.
Results: Global pathway analysis revealed differential expression of gene-sets representing matrix metabolism, triglyceride synthesis, inflammation, insulin signaling, and apoptosis. The network analysis showed a significant cluster of dysregulated genes coding for both intra- and extra-cellular proteins associated with vascular cell functions together with genes related to insulin signaling and matrix remodeling.
Conclusions: Our results identify pathways and networks involved in the diffuse vasculopathy present in non-atherosclerotic arterial tissue in patients with T2D and confirmed previously observed mRNA-alterations. These abnormalities may play a role for the arterial response to injury and putatively for the accelerated atherogenesis among patients with diabetes.