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Prog Neurobiol. 2006 Apr;78(6):327-46. Epub 2006 May 11.

P2X7 receptors in the nervous system.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, H-1450 Budapest, Hungary.


P2X(7) receptors are ligand-gated ion channels, expressed as homo-oligomeric assemblies of individual subunits. They are widely distributed at immunocompetent cells of the central and peripheral nervous system and are believed to be primarily involved in host-defense reaction. However, a growing amount of evidence indicates that their signaling role in the brain is more widespread than previously anticipated. In this paper, we review the present knowledge on the structural and pharmacological features of the P2X(7) receptor, as well as its cell-type specific localization in the nervous system. Subsequently, the participation of P2X(7) receptors in distinct neuronal, astroglial and microglial functions are described. Finally, since they may play a prominent role in certain neurologic disorders, such as ischemia-reperfusion injury, Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury and sensory neuropathies, the pathological role and potential therapeutic exploitation of P2X(7) receptors are also discussed.

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