Purinergic modulation of microglial cell activation

Béta Sperlágh, Peter Illes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

68 Citations (Scopus)


Microglial cells are resident macrophages in the brain and their activation is an important part of the brain immune response and the pathology of the major CNS diseases. Microglial activation is triggered by pathological signals and is characterized by morphological changes, proliferation, phagocytosis and the secretion of various cytokines and inflammatory mediators, which could be both destructive and protective for the nervous tissue. Purines are one of the most important mediators which regulate different aspects of microglial function. They could be released to the extracellular space from neurons, astrocytes and from the microglia itself, upon physiological neuronal activity and in response to pathological stimuli and cellular damage. Microglial activation is regulated by various subtypes of nucleotide (P2X, P2Y) and adenosine (A1, A2A and A3) receptors, which control ionic conductances, membrane potential, gene transcription, the production of inflammatory mediators and cell survival. Among them, the role of P2X7 receptors is especially well delineated, but P2X4, various P2Y, A1, A2A and A3 receptors also powerfully participate in the microglial response. The pathological role of microglial purine receptors has also been demonstrated in disease models; e.g., in ischemia, sclerosis multiplex and neuropathic pain. Due to their upregulation and selective activation under pathological conditions, they provide new avenues in the treatment of neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory illnesses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-127
Number of pages11
JournalPurinergic Signalling
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • ATP
  • Adenosine receptors
  • Microglia
  • Neurodegeneration
  • P2X receptor
  • P2Y receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology

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