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J Periodontal Res. 2011 Oct;46(5):607-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0765.2011.01379.x. Epub 2011 May 25.

Role of connexin43 hemichannels in mechanical stress-induced ATP release in human periodontal ligament cells.

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Department of Anatomy and Graduate School of Oral Biology, Faculty of Dentistry, Chulalongkorn University, Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand.



Our previous studies showed that mechanical stress could induce ATP release in human periodontal ligament (HPDL) cells. By signaling through P2 purinergic receptors, ATP increased the expression and the synthesis of osteopontin and RANKL. In this study, the mechanism of stress-induced ATP release was investigated.


Continuous compressive forces were applied on cultured HPDL cells. The ATP released was measured using luciferin-luciferase bioluminescence. The expression of gap-junction proteins was examined using RT-PCR and western blot analysis. The opening of hemichannels was demonstrated by cellular uptake of a fluorescent dye, 5(6)-carboxyfluorescein, which is known to penetrate hemichannels. Intracellular signal transduction was investigated using inhibitors and antagonists.


Mechanical stress induced the release of ATP into the culture medium, which was attenuated by carbenoxolone, a nonspecific gap-junction inhibitor. Addition of meclofenamic acid sodium salt, a connexin43 inhibitor, inhibited ATP release by mechanical stress. Knockdown of connexin43 expression by small interfering RNA reduced the amount of ATP released by mechanical stress, suggesting the role of connexin43 hemichannels. In addition, intracellular Ca(2+) blockers could also inhibit mechanical stress-induced ATP release and the opening of the gap junction.


Our study demonstrated the involvement of gap-junction hemichannels, especially connexin43, in the stress-induced ATP-release mechanism. Furthermore, this mechanism may be regulated by the intracellular Ca(2+) signaling pathway. These results suggest an important role of gap-junction hemichannels in the function and behavior of HPDL cells.

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