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Liver Int. 2013 Mar;33(3):353-61. doi: 10.1111/liv.12109.

Purinergic signalling during sterile liver injury.

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Immunobiophotonics Lab, Biological Sciences Institute, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Minas Gerais, Brazil.


The liver plays a vital role in the organism, and thousands of patients suffer and even die from hepatic complications every year. Viral hepatitis is one of the most important causes of liver-related pathological processes. However, sterile liver diseases, such as drug-induced liver injury, cirrhosis and fibrosis, are still a worldwide concern and contribute significantly to liver transplantation statistics. During hepatocyte death, several genuine intracellular contents are released to the interstitium, where they will trigger inflammatory responses that may boost organ injury. Intracellular purines are key molecules to several metabolic pathways and regulate cell bioenergetics. However, seminal studies in early 70s revealed that purines may also participate in cell-to-cell communication, and more recent data have unequivocally demonstrated that the purinergic signalling plays a key role in the recognition of cell functionality by neighbouring cells and also by the immune system. This new body of knowledge has pointed out that several promising therapeutic opportunities may rely on the modulation of purine release and sensing during diseases. Here, we review the most recent data on the physiological roles of purinergic signalling and how its imbalance may contribute to injury progression during sterile liver injury.

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