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Gen Pharmacol. 1998 Jul;31(1):1-8.

Extracellular ATP: a growth factor for vascular smooth muscle cells.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Lund University Hospital, Sweden.


1. Extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is mitogenic for vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) and stimulates several events that are important for cell proliferation: DNA synthesis, protein synthesis, increase of cell number, immediate early genes, cell-cycle progression, and tyrosine phosphorylation. 2. Receptor characterization indicates mitogenic effects of both P2U and P2Y receptors. The P2X receptor is lost in cultured VSMC and is not involved. Several related biological substances such as UTP, ITP, GTP, AP4A, ADP, and UDP are also mitogenic. 3. Signal transduction is mediated via Gq-proteins, phospholipase C beta, phospholipase D, diacyl glycerol, protein kinase C alpha, delta, Raf-1, MEK, and MAPK. 4. ATP acts synergistically with polypeptide growth factors (PDGF, bFGF, IGF-1, EGF, insulin) and growth factors acting via G-protein-coupled receptors (noradrenaline, neuropeptide Y, 5-hydroxytryptamine, angiotensin II, endothelin-1). 5. The mitogenic effects have been demonstrated in rat, porcine, and bovine VSMC and cells from human coronary arteries, aorta, and subcutaneous arteries and veins. 6. The trophic effects on VSMC and the abundant sources for extracellular ATP in the vessel wall make a pathophysiological role probable in the development of atherosclerosis, neointima-formation after angioplasty, and possibly hypertension.

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