, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 233-240
Date: 12 Mar 2009

Different properties of P2X7 receptor in hippocampal and cortical astrocytes

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P2X7 receptor is a ligand-gated ion channel, which can induce the opening of large membrane pores. Here, we provide evidence that the receptor induces pore formation in astrocytes cultured from cortex, but not from the hippocampus. Furthermore, P2X7 receptor activation promptly induces p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation in cortical but not in hippocampal astrocytes. Given the role of p38 MAPK activation in pore opening, these data suggest that defective coupling of the receptor to the enzyme could occur in hippocampal cultures. The different capabilities of the receptor to open membrane pores cause relevant functional consequences. Upon pore formation, caspase-1 is activated and pro-IL1-β is cleaved and released extracellularly. The receptor stimulation does not result in interleukin-1beta secretion from hippocampal astrocytes, although the pro-cytokine is present in the cytosol of lipopolysaccharide-primed cultures. These results open the possibility that activation of P2X7 receptors differently influences the neuroinflammatory processes in distinct brain regions.