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J Immunol. 2009 Apr 1;182(7):4378-85. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0803612.

Activation of microglia by amyloid {beta} requires P2X7 receptor expression.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Ferrara, Italy.


Extracellular ATP is a mediator of intercellular communication and a danger signal. Release of this and other nucleotides modulates microglia responses via P2Y and P2X receptors, among which the P2X(7) subtype stands out for its proinflammatory activity and for up-regulation in a transgenic model of Alzheimer disease and in brains from Alzheimer disease patients. Here we show that amyloid beta (Abeta) triggered increases in intracellular Ca(2+) ([Ca(2+)](i)), ATP release, IL-1beta secretion, and plasma membrane permeabilization in microglia from wild-type but not from P2X(7)-deleted mice. Likewise, intra-hippocampal injection of Abeta caused a large accumulation of IL-1beta in wild-type but not in P2X(7)(-/-) mice. These observations suggest that Abeta activates a purinergic autocrine/paracrine stimulatory loop of which the P2X(7) receptor is an obligate component. Identification of the P2X(7) receptor as a non-dispensable factor of Abeta-mediated microglia stimulation may open new avenues for the treatment of Alzheimer disease.

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