IMR Press / FBE / Volume 3 / Issue 3 / DOI: 10.2741/E298

Frontiers in Bioscience-Elite (FBE) is published by IMR Press from Volume 13 Issue 2 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

Introductory overview of purinergic signalling
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1 Autonomic Neuroscience Centre, University College Medical School, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Front. Biosci. (Elite Ed) 2011, 3(3), 896–900;
Published: 1 June 2011

Purinergic neurotransmission was proposed in 1972 following identification of adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) as the transmitter in non-adrenergic, non-cholinergic inhibitory nerves in guinea-pig taenia coli. Subsequently ATP was identified as a co-transmitter in sympathetic, parasympathetic and most nerves in the peripheral and central nervous systems. ATP acts as a short-term signalling molecule in neurotransmission, neuromodulation and secretion and has long-term (trophic) roles in cell proliferation, differentiation and death in development and regeneration. Three subclasses of purine and pyrimidine receptors have been identified, P1 adenosine (4 subtypes), P2X ionotropic nucleotide (7 subtypes) and P2Y metabotropic receptors (8 subtypes). ATP is released physiologically by many cell types by mechanical deformation and, after release, ATP undergoes ectonucleotidase degradation. Purinergic receptors appeared early in evolution and have a widespread distribution on many non-neuronal cell and neurons. Purinergic signalling is involved in embryonic and stem cell development. There is a rapidly growing literature about the pathophysiology of purinergic signalling including therapeutic developments for diseases, including stroke, thrombosis, osteoporosis, kidney failure, bladder incontinence, cystic fibrosis, dry eye, cancer and brain disorders.

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