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Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2015 Mar 19;2(2):e80. doi: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000000080. eCollection 2015 Apr.

P2Y12 expression and function in alternatively activated human microglia.

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Division of BioMedical Sciences (C.S.M.), Neuroscience, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada; Neuroimmunology Unit (C.S.M., A.A., A.K., V.T.S.R., M.M.-R., S.Y.L., P.S., A.B.-O., J.P.A.), Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Center for Neurologic Diseases (O.B.), Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; and Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine (S.K.L.), Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.



To investigate and measure the functional significance of altered P2Y12 expression in the context of human microglia activation.


We performed in vitro and in situ experiments to measure how P2Y12 expression can influence disease-relevant functional properties of classically activated (M1) and alternatively activated (M2) human microglia in the inflamed brain.


We demonstrated that compared to resting and classically activated (M1) human microglia, P2Y12 expression is increased under alternatively activated (M2) conditions. In response to ADP, the endogenous ligand of P2Y12, M2 microglia have increased ligand-mediated calcium responses, which are blocked by selective P2Y12 antagonism. P2Y12 antagonism was also shown to decrease migratory and inflammatory responses in human microglia upon exposure to nucleotides that are released during CNS injury; no effects were observed in human monocytes or macrophages. In situ experiments confirm that P2Y12 is selectively expressed on human microglia and elevated under neuropathologic conditions that promote Th2 responses, such as parasitic CNS infection.


These findings provide insight into the roles of M2 microglia in the context of neuroinflammation and suggest a mechanism to selectively target a functionally unique population of myeloid cells in the CNS.

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