, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 317-331,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 12 Sep 2007

New insights into purinergic receptor signaling in neuronal differentiation, neuroprotection, and brain disorders


Ionotropic P2X and metabotropic P2Y purinergic receptors are expressed in the central nervous system and participate in the synaptic process particularly associated with acetylcholine, GABA, and glutamate neurotransmission. As a result of activation, the P2 receptors promote the elevation of free intracellular calcium concentration as the main signaling pathway. Purinergic signaling is present in early stages of embryogenesis and is involved in processes of cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation. The use of new techniques such as knockout animals, in vitro models of neuronal differentiation, antisense oligonucleotides to induce downregulation of purinergic receptor gene expression, and the development of selective inhibitors for purinergic receptor subtypes contribute to the comprehension of the role of purinergic signaling during neurogenesis. In this review, we shall discuss the participation of purinergic receptors in developmental processes and in brain physiology, including neuron-glia interactions and pathophysiology.