Introduction to Purinergic Signalling in the Brain

  • Geoffrey Burnstock
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 986)


ATP is a cotransmitter with glutamate, noradrenaline, GABA, acetylcholine and dopamine in the brain. There is a widespread presence of both adenosine (P1) and P2 nucleotide receptors in the brain on both neurons and glial cells. Adenosine receptors play a major role in presynaptic neuromodulation, while P2X ionotropic receptors are involved in fast synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity. P2Y G protein-coupled receptors are largely involved in presynaptic activities, as well as mediating long-term (trophic) signalling in cell proliferation, differentiation and death during development and regeneration. Both P1 and P2 receptors participate in neuron-glial interactions. Purinergic signalling is involved in control of cerebral vascular tone and remodelling and has been implicated in learning and memory, locomotor and feeding behaviour and sleep. There is increasing interest in the involvement of purinergic signalling in the pathophysiology of the CNS, including trauma, ischaemia, epilepsy, neurodegenerative diseases, neuropsychiatric and mood disorders, and cancer, including gliomas.


ATP Adenosine Purinoceptors Cotransmission Neuromodulation Glia Neuron-gial interactions Trophic signalling Memory Sleep Neurodegenerative diseases Gliomas 





Adenosine diphosphate


Adenosine 5′-triphosphate


Basic fibroblast growth factor


Central nervous system


cAMP response element-binding protein


Ecto-nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterases


Ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase


γ-Amino butyric acid






Uridine diphosphate


Uridine 5′-triphosphate




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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Autonomic Neuroscience CentreUniversity College Medical SchoolLondonUK

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