Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Braz J Med Biol Res. 2009 Jan;42(1):3-8. Epub 2008 Oct 3.

Purinergic signalling: past, present and future.

Author information

  • 1Autonomic Neuroscience Centre, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK.


The discovery of non-adrenergic, non-cholinergic neurotransmission in the gut and bladder in the early 1960's is described as well as the identification of adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) as a transmitter in these nerves in the early 1970's. The concept of purinergic cotransmission was formulated in 1976 and it is now recognized that ATP is a cotransmitter in all nerves in the peripheral and central nervous systems. Two families of receptors to purines were recognized in 1978, P1 (adenosine) receptors and P2 receptors sensitive to ATP and adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Cloning of these receptors in the early 1990's was a turning point in the acceptance of the purinergic signalling hypothesis and there are currently 4 subtypes of P1 receptors, 7 subtypes of P2X ion channel receptors and 8 subtypes of G protein-coupled receptors. Both short-term purinergic signalling in neurotransmission, neuromodulation and neurosecretion and long-term (trophic) purinergic signalling of cell proliferation, differentiation, motility, death in development and regeneration are recognized. There is now much known about the mechanisms underlying ATP release and extracellular breakdown by ecto-nucleotidases. The recent emphasis on purinergic neuropathology is discussed, including changes in purinergic cotransmission in development and ageing and in bladder diseases and hypertension. The involvement of neuron-glial cell interactions in various diseases of the central nervous system, including neuropathic pain, trauma and ischemia, neurodegenerative diseases, neuropsychiatric disorders and epilepsy are also considered.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Scientific Electronic Library Online
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk