Opposite effects of uracil and adenine nucleotides on the survival of murine cardiomyocytes: In Focus: Heart

Alessia Mazzola, Emanuela Amoruso, Elena Beltrami, Davide Lecca, Silvia Ferrario, Simona Cosentino, Elena Tremoli, Stefania Ceruti, Maria P. Abbracchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We previously showed that the human heart expresses all known P2X and P2Y receptors activated by extra-cellular adenine or uracil nucleotides. Despite evidence that, both in humans and rodents, plasma levels of ATP and UTP markedly increase during myocardial infarction, the differential effects mediated by the various adenine- and uracil-preferring myocardial P2 receptors are still largely unknown. Here, we studied the effects of adenine and uracil nucleotides on murine HL-1 cardiomyocytes. RT-PCR analysis showed that HL-1 cardiomyocytes express all known P2X receptors (except for P2X2), as well as the P2Y2,4,6,14 subtypes. Exposure of cardiomyocytes to adenine nucleotides (ATP, ADP or BzATP) induced apoptosis and necrosis, as determined by flow-cytometry. Cell death was exacerbated by tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, a cytokine implicated in chronic heart failure progression. Conversely, uracil nucleotides (UTP, UDP and UDPglucose) had no effect 'per se', but fully counteracted the deleterious effects induced by adenine nucleotides and TNF-α, even if added to cardiomyocytes after beginning exposure to these cell death-inducing agents. Thus, exposure of cardiomyocytes to elevated concentrations of ATP or ADP in the presence of TNF-α contributes to cell death, an effect which is counteracted by uracil-preferring P2 receptors. Cardiomyocytes do not need to be 'primed' by uracil nucleotides to become insensitive to adenine nucleotides-induced death, suggesting the existence of a possible 'therapeutic' window for uracil nucleotides-mediated protection. Thus, release of UTP during cardiac ischaemia and in chronic heart failure may protect against myocardial damage, setting the basis for developing novel cardioprotective agents that specifically target uracil-preferring P2Y receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522-536
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • Apoptosis
  • Cytokines
  • Heart failure
  • P2Y receptors
  • Signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Opposite effects of uracil and adenine nucleotides on the survival of murine cardiomyocytes: In Focus: Heart'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this