, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 189-195
Date: 13 Feb 2009

P2X7 receptor and macrophage function

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Macrophages are unique innate immune cells that play an integral role in the defense of the host by virtue of their ability to recognize, engulf, and kill pathogens while sending out danger signals via cytokines to recruit and activate inflammatory cells. It is becoming increasingly clear that purinergic signaling events are essential components of the macrophage response to pathogen challenges and disorders such as sepsis may be, at least in part, regulated by these important sensors. The activation of the P2X7 receptor is a powerful event in the regulation of the caspase-1 inflammasome. We provide evidence that the inflammasome activation requires “priming” of macrophages prior to ATP activation of the P2X7R. Inhibition of the inflammasome activation by the tyrosine kinase inhibitor, AG126, suggests regulation by phosphorylation. Finally, the P2X7R may also be activated by other elements of the host response such as the antimicrobial peptide LL-37, which adds a new, physiologically relevant agonist to the P2X7R pathway. Therapeutic approaches to inflammation and sepsis will certainly be enhanced by an increased understanding of how purinergic receptors modulate the inflammasomes.