Cerebellar lesion up-regulates P2X1 and P2X2 purinergic receptors in precerebellar nuclei

F. Florenzano, M. T. Viscomi, F. Cavaliere, C. Volonté, M. Molinari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ATP released in the extracellular space by neuronal injury can influence neighboring neurons via activation of purinergic receptors. In vitro data suggest the involvement of ATP and purinergic receptors as trophic agents in different biological events such as neuritogenesis and cell survival. Recently, in vivo studies have demonstrated modifications in the glial expression of ionotropic purinergic receptors after CNS lesions. In the present study, we investigated the effects of CNS lesion on the neuronal expression of P2X1 and P2X2 receptor subunits by immunohistochemistry and western blotting techniques. In the precerebellar structures of normal animals the expression of P2X1 and P2X2 was lower than previously reported. P2X1 immunostaining was confined only to fibers, while P2X2 immunostaining demonstrated a neuronal expression. After unilateral cerebellar lesion (hemicerebellectomy) axotomized precerebellar neurons underwent marked cell loss; however, some precerebellar neurons did not degenerate. Seven to 35 days after hemicerebellectomy, a transient, time-dependent, marked increase in the number of immunopositive P2X1 and P2X2 neurons was observed in the precerebellar nuclei of the experimental side. An even distribution of immunopositive neurons was present in almost all precerebellar nuclei examined, except for the inferior olive. In this latter structure, differences in the distribution of immunopositive neurons were evident among the subnuclei. Up-regulation of immunoreactivity over relatively long time periods, distribution selectivity and absence of degenerating morphological features in immunopositive neurons suggest that purinergic receptors may have a role in mediating the survival of neuronal responses to axotomy. The present findings are the first report in the CNS of P2X1 and P2X2 receptor subunit involvement in neuronal reaction to axotomy. They provide in vivo evidence of a correlation between purinergic receptor subunit up-regulation and survival of injured neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-434
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 20 2002


  • Cerebellum
  • Inferior olive
  • Plasticity
  • Pontine nuclei
  • Rat
  • Regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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