Extracellular adenosine 5' triphosphate involvement in the death of LAK-engaged human tumor cells via P2X-receptor activation

Pierpaolo Correale, Pierosandro Tagliaferri, Rosario Guarrasi, Michele Caraglia, Mariateresa Giuliano, Maria Rita Marinetti, Angelo R. Bianco, Antonio Procopio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study reports that extracellular ATP is a critical factor involved in LAK cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Human colon carcinoma LoVo cells were resistant to LAK cells as well as to ATP, while their multidrug resistant (MDR-1+) derivative, LoVo-Dx cells, were sensitive to both LAK and ATP. LoVo-Dx cells, became resistant to LAK cells and ATP after 48 h pretreatment with Phorbol 12-Myristate-13-Acetate (PMA), while 48 h pretreatment with verapamil in parallel sensitized LoVo cells to LAK cells and to ATP as well. The sensitivity to ATP and LAK cells was not related to the expression of extracellular ecto-ATPase activity on cell targets membranes. Conversely, apyrase, an enzyme with powerful ecto-ATPase activity, abolished the LAK- and ATP-mediated cytotoxicity. Furthermore, ADP-β-S, an antagonist of ATP, abolished both LAK and ATP-mediated cell killing. Purine binding sites have been detected by radioreceptor assays with ADP-β[35S] on the cell surface of ATP and LAK-sensitive LoVo-Dx cells. By contrast, no nucleotide receptor was found on the ATP and LAK-resistant cells. Such a putative cytotoxic purinoreceptor has been categorized as P2x purinergic receptor by a panel of synthetic nucleotides. These results demonstrate that extracellular ATP is needed for an efficient LAK cell-mediated killing of tumor cells. We propose that ATP acts as a natural amplifier of physical, or immune cytotoxic damages since it may be released in large amounts from target cells injured by several cytotoxic mediators secreted by LAK effectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalImmunology Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1997


  • ATP
  • Colon carcinoma
  • Cytotoxicity
  • LAK
  • P2x receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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