Purinergic Signalling

, 4:339

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

ATP signalling in epilepsy

  • Ashwin KumariaAffiliated withDepartment of Neurosurgery, King’s College Hospital Email author 
  • , Christos M. ToliasAffiliated withDepartment of Neurosurgery, King’s College Hospital
  • , Geoffrey BurnstockAffiliated withAutonomic Neuroscience Centre, Royal Free and University College Medical School


This paper focuses on a role for ATP neurotransmission and gliotransmission in the pathophysiology of epileptic seizures. ATP along with gap junctions propagates the glial calcium wave, which is an extraneuronal signalling pathway in the central nervous system. Recently astrocyte intercellular calcium waves have been shown to underlie seizures, and conventional antiepileptic drugs have been shown to attenuate these calcium waves. Blocking ATP-mediated gliotransmission, therefore, represents a potential target for antiepileptic drugs. Furthermore, while knowledge of an antiepileptic role for adenosine is not new, a recent study showed that adenosine accumulates from the hydrolysis of accumulated ATP released by astrocytes and is believed to inhibit distant synapses by acting on adenosine receptors. Such a mechanism is consistent with a surround-inhibitory mechanism whose failure would predispose to seizures. Other potential roles for ATP signalling in the initiation and spread of epileptiform discharges may involve synaptic plasticity and coordination of synaptic networks. We conclude by making speculations about future developments.


Astrocytes ATP Epilepsy Gliotransmission Seizure