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Extracellular purines can act at purinoceptors to influence metabolic processes. Nucleotide-metabolizing ectoenzymes may modulate such purinergic effects, and their occurrence in a tissue may suggest the presence of purinoceptors. Thus, following the identification of ecto-nucleoside triphosphate pyrophosphatase in cultured human articular chondrocytes, we have studied whether these cells express P2-type purinoceptors. Release of prostaglandin E (PGE) was monitored, since articular chondrocytes synthesize and secrete PGE, and activation of P2-purinoceptors frequently results in enhanced prostaglandin production. Extracellular ATP and ADP stimulated PGE production, whereas AMP and adenosine had only limited effects. ATP concentrations as low as 5 microM were effective, and maximal responses were achieved at 50-100 microM ATP. GTP, UTP and ITP also elicited responses, but tended to be less effective than ATP at equivalent concentrations. Of the analogues of ATP that were tested, only adenosine 5'-(beta,gamma-methylene)triphosphate stimulated PGE production. The response to extracellular ATP was virtually abolished by indomethacin. Treatment of the cells with the P1-purinoceptor antagonist, 8-phenyltheophylline, or with pertussis toxin reduced both basal and ATP-stimulated PGE production, but did not substantially decrease the ratio of ATP-stimulated to basal PGE production. These results indicate the presence of P2-purinoceptors in cultured human articular chondrocytes, and suggest that extracellular ATP may have physiological and pathological effects in human articular cartilage.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochim biophys acta

Publication Date





151 - 158


Adenine, Adenosine, Adenosine Triphosphate, Cartilage, Articular, Cells, Cultured, Humans, Indomethacin, Nucleotides, Pertussis Toxin, Prostaglandins E, Receptors, Purinergic, Theophylline, Virulence Factors, Bordetella