Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Extracellular nucleotide and nucleoside signaling in vascular and blood disease

  1. Marco Idzko1,
  2. Davide Ferrari2,
  3. Ann-Kathrin Riegel3, and
  4. Holger K. Eltzschig3
  1. 1Department of Pneumology, Freiburg University Medical Center, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg, Germany;
  2. 2Department of Morphology, Surgery and Experimental Medicine, Section of General Pathology, Oncology and Experimental Biology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy; and
  3. 3Organ Protection Program, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO


Nucleotides and nucleosides—such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and adenosine—are famous for their intracellular roles as building blocks for the genetic code or cellular energy currencies. In contrast, their function in the extracellular space is different. Here, they are primarily known as signaling molecules via activation of purinergic receptors, classified as P1 receptors for adenosine or P2 receptors for ATP. Because extracellular ATP is rapidly converted to adenosine by ectonucleotidase, nucleotide-phosphohydrolysis is important for controlling the balance between P2 and P1 signaling. Gene-targeted mice for P1, P2 receptors, or ectonucleotidase exhibit only very mild phenotypic manifestations at baseline. However, they demonstrate alterations in disease susceptibilities when exposed to a variety of vascular or blood diseases. Examples of phenotypic manifestations include vascular barrier dysfunction, graft-vs-host disease, platelet activation, ischemia, and reperfusion injury or sickle cell disease. Many of these studies highlight that purinergic signaling events can be targeted therapeutically.

  • Submitted September 28, 2013.
  • Accepted June 16, 2014.
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