Cardiomyocyte death induced by ischaemic/hypoxic stress is differentially affected by distinct purinergic P2 receptors

Simona Cosentino, Cristina Banfi, Joachim C. Burbiel, Haijian Luo, Elena Tremoli, Maria P. Abbracchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Blood levels of extracellular nucleotides (e.g. ATP) are greatly increased during heart ischaemia, but, despite the presence of their specific receptors on cardiomyocytes (both P2X and P2Y subtypes), their effects on the subsequent myocardial damage are still unknown. In this study, we aimed at investigating the role of ATP and specific P2 receptors in the appearance of cell injury in a cardiac model of ischaemic/hypoxic stress. Cells were maintained in a modular incubator chamber in a controlled humidified atmosphere of 95% N2 for 16 hrs in a glucose-free medium. In this condition, we detected an early increase in the release of ATP in the culture medium, which was followed by a massive increase in the release of cytoplasmic histone-associated-DNA-fragments, a marker of apoptosis. Addition of either apyrase, which degrades extracellular ATP, or various inhibitors of ATP release via connexin hemichannels fully abolished ischaemic/hypoxic stress-associated apoptosis. To dissect the role of specific P2 receptor subtypes, we used a combined approach: (i) non-selective and, when available, subtype-selective P2 antagonists, were added to cardiomyocytes before ischaemic/hypoxic stress; (ii) selected P2 receptors genes were silenced via specific small interfering RNAs. Both approaches indicated that the P2Y2 and P2χ7 receptor subtypes are directly involved in the induction of cell death during ischaemic/hypoxic stress, whereas the P2Y4 receptor has a protective effect. Overall, these findings indicate a role for ATP and its receptors in modulating cardiomyocyte damage during ischaemic/hypoxic stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1074-1084
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Apoptosis
  • Cardiomyocytes
  • Ischaemic/hypoxic stress
  • P2 receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Medicine


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