P2X7 receptor activation modulates autophagy in SOD1-g93a mouse microglia

Paola Fabbrizio, Susanna Amadio, Savina Apolloni, Cinzia Volonté

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autophagy and inflammation play determinant roles in the pathogenesis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), an adult-onset neurodegenerative disease characterized by deterioration and final loss of upper and lower motor neurons (MN) priming microglia to sustain neuroinflammation and a vicious cycle of neurodegeneration. Given that extracellular ATP through P2X7 receptor constitutes a neuron-to-microglia alarm signal implicated in ALS, and that P2X7 affects autophagy in immune cells, we have investigated if autophagy can be directly triggered by P2X7 activation in primary microglia from superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1)-G93A mice. We report that P2X7 enhances the expression of the autophagic marker microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3)-II, via mTOR pathway and concomitantly with modulation of anti-inflammatory M2 microglia markers. We also demonstrate that the autophagic target SQSTM1/p62 is decreased in SOD1-G93A microglia after a short stimulation of P2X7, but increased after a sustained challenge. These effects are prevented by the P2X7 antagonist A-804598, and the autophagy/phosphoinositide-3-kinase inhibitor wortmannin (WM). Finally, a chronic in vivo treatment with A-804598 in SOD1-G93A mice decreases the expression of SQSTM1/p62 in lumbar spinal cord at end stage of disease. These data identify the modulation of the autophagic flux as a novel mechanism by which P2X7 activates ALS-microglia, to be considered for further investigations in ALS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number249
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Aug 21 2017


  • ALS
  • ATP
  • BzATP
  • LC3B-II
  • Microglia
  • P2X7

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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