Purinergic signalling in the liver in health and disease
Purinergic signalling is involved in both the physiology and pathophysiology of the liver. Hepatocytes, Kupffer cells, vascular endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells, stellate cells and cholangiocytes all express purinoceptor subtypes activated by adenosine, adenosine 5′-triphosphate, adenosine diphosphate, uridine 5′-triphosphate or UDP. Purinoceptors mediate bile secretion, glycogen and lipid metabolism and indirectly release of insulin. Mechanical stress results in release of ATP from hepatocytes and Kupffer cells and ATP is also released as a cotransmitter with noradrenaline from sympathetic nerves supplying the liver. Ecto-nucleotidases play important roles in the signalling process. Changes in purinergic signalling occur in vascular injury, inflammation, insulin resistance, hepatic fibrosis, cirrhosis, diabetes, hepatitis, liver regeneration following injury or transplantation and cancer. Purinergic therapeutic strategies for the treatment of these pathologies are being explored.