The role of purinergic signaling in the liver and in transplantation: effects of extracellular nucleotides on hepatic graft vascular injury, rejection and metabolism

Beldi, G; Enjyoji, K; Wu, Y; Miller, L; Banz, Y; Sun, X; Robson, S.C. (2008). The role of purinergic signaling in the liver and in transplantation: effects of extracellular nucleotides on hepatic graft vascular injury, rejection and metabolism. Frontiers in bioscience - Landmark edition, 13(13), p. 2588. Irvine, Calif.: Frontiers in Bioscience 10.2741/2868

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Extracellular nucleotides (e.g. ATP, UTP, ADP) are released by activated endothelium, leukocytes and platelets within the injured vasculature and bind specific cell-surface type-2 purinergic (P2) receptors. This process drives vascular inflammation and thrombosis within grafted organs. Importantly, there are also vascular ectonucleotidases i.e. ectoenzymes that hydrolyze extracellular nucleotides in the blood to generate nucleosides (viz. adenosine). Endothelial cell NTPDase1/CD39 has been shown to critically modulate levels of circulating nucleotides. This process tends to limit the activation of platelet and leukocyte expressed P2 receptors and also generates adenosine to reverse inflammatory events. This vascular protective CD39 activity is rapidly inhibited by oxidative reactions, such as is observed with liver ischemia reperfusion injury. In this review, we chiefly address the impact of these signaling cascades following liver transplantation. Interestingly, the hepatic vasculature, hepatocytes and all non-parenchymal cell types express several components co-ordinating the purinergic signaling response. With hepatic and vascular dysfunction, we note heightened P2- expression and alterations in ectonucleotidase expression and function that may predispose to progression of disease. In addition to documented impacts upon the vasculature during engraftment, extracellular nucleotides also have direct influences upon liver function and bile flow (both under physiological and pathological states). We have recently shown that alterations in purinergic signaling mediated by altered CD39 expression have major impacts upon hepatic metabolism, repair mechanisms, regeneration and associated immune responses. Future clinical applications in transplantation might involve new therapeutic modalities using soluble recombinant forms of CD39, altering expression of this ectonucleotidase by drugs and/or using small molecules to inhibit deleterious P2-mediated signaling while augmenting beneficial adenosine-mediated effects within the transplanted liver.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gastro-intestinal, Liver and Lung Disorders (DMLL) > Clinic of Visceral Surgery and Medicine > Visceral Surgery
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR) > Forschungsbereich Mu50 > Forschungsgruppe Herz und Gefässe

UniBE Contributor:

Beldi, Guido, Banz Wälti, Yara Sarah




1093-4715 (Electroni


Frontiers in Bioscience




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:04

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:22

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 110168)

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