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      Systemic administration of an antagonist of the ATP-sensitive receptor P2X7 improves recovery after spinal cord injury

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          Abstract

          Traumatic spinal cord injury is characterized by an immediate, irreversible loss of tissue at the lesion site, as well as a secondary expansion of tissue damage over time. Although secondary injury should, in principle, be preventable, no effective treatment options currently exist for patients with acute spinal cord injury (SCI). Excessive release of ATP by the traumatized tissue, followed by activation of high-affinity P2X7 receptors, has previously been implicated in secondary injury, but no clinically relevant strategy by which to antagonize P2X7 receptors has yet, to the best of our knowledge, been reported. Here we have tested the neuroprotective effects of a systemically administered P2X7R antagonist, Brilliant blue G (BBG), in a weight-drop model of thoracic SCI in rats. Administration of BBG 15 min after injury reduced spinal cord anatomic damage and improved motor recovery without evident toxicity. Moreover, BBG treatment directly reduced local activation of astrocytes and microglia, as well as neutrophil infiltration. These observations suggest that BBG not only protected spinal cord neurons from purinergic excitotoxicity, but also reduced local inflammatory responses. Importantly, BBG is a derivative of a commonly used blue food color (FD&C blue No. 1), which crosses the blood-brain barrier. Systemic administration of BBG may thus comprise a readily feasible approach by which to treat traumatic SCI in humans.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Altered cytokine production in mice lacking P2X(7) receptors.

          The P2X(7) receptor (P2X(7)R) is an ATP-gated ion channel expressed by monocytes and macrophages. To directly address the role of this receptor in interleukin (IL)-1 beta post-translational processing, we have generated a P2X(7)R-deficient mouse line. P2X(7)R(-/-) macrophages respond to lipopolysaccharide and produce levels of cyclooxygenase-2 and pro-IL-1 beta comparable with those generated by wild-type cells. In response to ATP, however, pro-IL-1 beta produced by the P2X(7)R(-/-) cells is not externalized or activated by caspase-1. Nigericin, an alternate secretion stimulus, promotes release of 17-kDa IL-1 beta from P2X(7)R(-/-) macrophages. In response to in vivo lipopolysaccharide injection, both wild-type and P2X(7)R(-/-) animals display increases in peritoneal lavage IL-6 levels but no detectable IL-1. Subsequent ATP injection to wild-type animals promotes an increase in IL-1, which in turn leads to additional IL-6 production; similar increases did not occur in ATP-treated, LPS-primed P2X(7)R(-/-) animals. Absence of the P2X(7)R thus leads to an inability of peritoneal macrophages to release IL-1 in response to ATP. As a result of the IL-1 deficiency, in vivo cytokine signaling cascades are impaired in P2X(7)R-deficient animals. Together these results demonstrate that P2X(7)R activation can provide a signal that leads to maturation and release of IL-1 beta and initiation of a cytokine cascade.
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            P2X receptors as cell-surface ATP sensors in health and disease.

            P2X receptors are membrane ion channels activated by the binding of extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP). For years their functional significance was consigned to distant regions of the autonomic nervous system, but recent work indicates several further key roles, such as afferent signalling, chronic pain, and in autocrine loops of endothelial and epithelial cells. P2X receptors have a molecular architecture distinct from other ion channel protein families, and have several unique functional properties.
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              Disruption of the P2X7 purinoceptor gene abolishes chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain.

              The P2X(7) purinoceptor is a ligand-gated cation channel, expressed predominantly by cells of immune origin, with a unique phenotype which includes release of biologically active inflammatory cytokine, interleukin (IL)-1beta following activation, and unique ion channel biophysics observed only in this receptor family. Here we demonstrate that in mice lacking this receptor, inflammatory (in an adjuvant-induced model) and neuropathic (in a partial nerve ligation model) hypersensitivity is completely absent to both mechanical and thermal stimuli, whilst normal nociceptive processing is preserved. The knockout animals were unimpaired in their ability to produce mRNA for pro-IL-1beta, and cytometric analysis of paw and systemic cytokines from knockout and wild-type animals following adjuvant insult suggests a selective effect of the gene deletion on release of IL-1beta and IL-10, with systemic reductions in adjuvant-induced increases in IL-6 and MCP-1. In addition, we show that this receptor is upregulated in human dorsal root ganglia and injured nerves obtained from chronic neuropathic pain patients. We hypothesise that the P2X(7) receptor, via regulation of mature IL-1beta production, plays a common upstream transductional role in the development of pain of neuropathic and inflammatory origin. Drugs which block this target may have the potential to deliver broad-spectrum analgesia.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                July 28 2009
                July 28 2009
                July 27 2009
                July 28 2009
                : 106
                : 30
                : 12489-12493
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.0902531106
                2718350
                19666625
                © 2009
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