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Glia. 2003 Sep;43(3):218-03.

Nucleotide-mediated calcium signaling in rat cortical astrocytes: Role of P2X and P2Y receptors.

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Department of Pharmacological Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.


ATP is the dominant messenger for astrocyte-to-astrocyte calcium-mediated communication. Definition of the exact ATP/P2 receptors in astrocytes and of their coupling to intracellular calcium ([Ca(2+)](i)) has important implications for brain physiology and pathology. We show that, with the only exception of the P2X(6) receptor, primary rat cortical astrocytes express all cloned ligand-gated P2X (i.e., P2X(1-5) and P2X(7)) and G-protein-coupled P2Y receptors (i.e., P2Y(1), P2Y(2), P2Y(4), P2Y(6), and P2Y(12)). These cells also express the P2Y-like UDP-glucose receptor, which has been recently recognized as the P2Y(14) receptor. Single-cell image analysis showed that only some of these receptors are coupled to [Ca(2+)](i). While ATP induced rapid and transient [Ca(2+)](i) increases (counteracted by the P2 antagonists suramin, pyridoxal-phosphate-6-azophenyl-2'-4'-disulfonic acid and oxidized ATP), the P2X(1)/P2X(3) agonist alphabetameATP produced no changes. Conversely, the P2X(7) agonist BzATP markedly increased [Ca(2+)](i); the presence and function of the P2X(7) receptor was also confirmed by the formation of the P2X(7) pore. ADP and 2meSADP also produced [Ca(2+)](i) increases antagonized by the P2Y(1) antagonist MRS2179. Some cells also responded to UTP but not to UDP. Significant responses to sugar-nucleotides were also detected, which represents the first functional response reported for the putative P2Y(14) receptor in a native system. Based on agonist preference of known P2 receptors, we conclude that, in rat astrocytes, ATP-induced calcium rises are at least mediated by P2X(7) and P2Y(1) receptors; additional receptors (i.e., P2X(2), P2X(4), P2X(5), P2Y(2), P2Y(4), and P2Y(14)) may also contribute.

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