Ornithine is a key mediator in hyperphosphatemia-mediated human umbilical vein endothelial cell apoptosis: Insights gained from metabolomics

Rong Zhou, Xin Kang, Bo Tang, Chandra Mohan, Tianfu Wu, Ai Peng, Jun Yan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aims Hyperphosphatemia is associated with accelerated vascular endothelial dysfunction in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The purpose of this study is to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying hyperphosphatemia-caused endothelial dysfunction. Main methods The metabolic fingerprinting of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) subjected to hyperphosphatemia was characterized using an integrated metabolomics approach. HUVECs cultured in physiologically simulated hyperphosphatemia with or without phosphonoformic acid, a sodium-dependent phosphate transporter inhibitor (N = 6) were collected for metabolomics analysis. Multivariate principle component analysis and partial least squares discriminant analysis were applied to analyze the metabolic data. The key metabolites were confirmed by quantitative analysis using liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS). Key findings 36 metabolites were significantly altered in HUVECs following the challenges of hyperphosphatemia mimic, involving several metabolic pathways (all P < 0.05). Among them, ornithine increased significantly in the HUVECs mediated by hyperphosphatemia mimic, and its levels positively correlated with cell apoptosis rate (r = 0.674, P = 0.002), and several additional metabolites in multiple metabolic pathways. The changes in the levels of ornithine and other several metabolites were supported by subsequent quantitative analyses using LC-MS/MS. Further study demonstrated that the increase in ornithine level may result from the increased expression of arginase 2 in HUVECs, which mediates the hydrolysis of arginine to form ornithine. Significance This is the first study demonstrating ornithine a key molecule mediating hyperphosphatemia-induced apoptosis of ECs. Arginase 2 may be a therapeutic target for hyperphosphatemia-associated cardiovascular events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-80
Number of pages8
JournalLife Sciences
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Arginase 2
  • CKD
  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • GC/MS
  • LC-MS/MS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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