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1.  The A3 Adenosine Receptor Mediates Cell Spreading, Reorganization of Actin Cytoskeleton, and Distribution of Bcl-xL: Studies in Human Astroglioma Cells 
The pathophysiological role of the adenosine A3 receptor in the central nervous system is largely unknown. We have investigated the effects of the selective A3 receptor agonist 2-chloro-N6-(3-iodobenzyl)-adenosine, Cl-IB-MECA, in cells of the astroglial lineage (human astrocytoma ADF cells). A marked reorganization of the cytoskeleton, with appearance of stress fibers and numerous cell protrusions, was found following exposure of cells to low (nM) concentrations of Cl-IB-MECA. These “trophic” effects were accompanied by induction of the expression of Rho, a small GTP-binding protein, which was virtually absent in control cells, and by changes of the intracellular distribution of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-xL, that, in agonist-exposed cells, became specifically associated to cell protrusions. This is the first demonstration that the intracellular organization of Bcl-xL can be modulated by the activation of a G-protein-coupled membrane receptor, such as the A3 adenosine receptor. Moreover, modulation of the astrocytic cytoskeleton by adenosine may have intriguing implications in both nervous system development and in the response of the brain to trauma and ischemia.
PMCID: PMC4248308  PMID: 9425266
2.  The Purinergic System and Glial Cells: Emerging Costars in Nociception 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:495789.
It is now well established that glial cells not only provide mechanical and trophic support to neurons but can directly contribute to neurotransmission, for example, by release and uptake of neurotransmitters and by secreting pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators. This has greatly changed our attitude towards acute and chronic disorders, paving the way for new therapeutic approaches targeting activated glial cells to indirectly modulate and/or restore neuronal functions. A deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways involved in neuron-to-glia and glia-to-glia communication that can be pharmacologically targeted is therefore a mandatory step toward the success of this new healing strategy. This holds true also in the field of pain transmission, where the key involvement of astrocytes and microglia in the central nervous system and satellite glial cells in peripheral ganglia has been clearly demonstrated, and literally hundreds of signaling molecules have been identified. Here, we shall focus on one emerging signaling system involved in the cross talk between neurons and glial cells, the purinergic system, consisting of extracellular nucleotides and nucleosides and their membrane receptors. Specifically, we shall summarize existing evidence of novel “druggable” glial purinergic targets, which could help in the development of innovative analgesic approaches to chronic pain states.
PMCID: PMC4168030  PMID: 25276794
3.  Purinergic trophic signalling in glial cells: functional effects and modulation of cell proliferation, differentiation, and death 
Purinergic Signalling  2012;8(3):539-557.
In the last decades, the discovery that glial cells do not only fill in the empty space among neurons or furnish them with trophic support but are rather essential participants to the various activities of the central and peripheral nervous system has fostered the search for the signalling pathways controlling their functions. Since the early 1990s, purines were foreseen as some of the most promising candidate molecules. Originally just a hypothesis, this has become a certainty as experimental evidence accumulated over years, as demonstrated by the exponentially growing number of articles related to the role of extracellular nucleotides and nucleosides in controlling glial cell functions. Indeed, as new functions for already known glial cells (for example, the ability of parenchymal astrocytes to behave as stem cells) or new subtypes of glial cells (for example, NG2+ cells, also called polydendrocytes) are discovered also, new actions and new targets for the purinergic system are identified. Thus, glial purinergic receptors have emerged as new possible pharmacological targets for various acute and chronic pathologies, such as stroke, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, demyelinating diseases, trigeminal pain and migraine, and retinopathies. In this article, we will summarize the most important and promising actions mediated by extracellular purines and pyrimidines in controlling the functions, survival, and differentiation of the various “classical” types of glial cells (i.e., astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglial cells, Müller cells, satellite glial cells, and enteric glial cells) but also of some rather new members of the family (e.g., polydendrocytes) and of other cells somehow related to glial cells (e.g., pericytes and spinal cord ependymal cells).
PMCID: PMC3360088  PMID: 22528683
Astrocytes; Microglial cells; Oligodendrocytes; Müller cells; Reactive gliosis; Myelination
5.  Temporomandibular joint inflammation activates glial and immune cells in both the trigeminal ganglia and in the spinal trigeminal nucleus 
Molecular Pain  2010;6:89.
Glial cells have been shown to directly participate to the genesis and maintenance of chronic pain in both the sensory ganglia and the central nervous system (CNS). Indeed, glial cell activation has been reported in both the dorsal root ganglia and the spinal cord following injury or inflammation of the sciatic nerve, but no data are currently available in animal models of trigeminal sensitization. Therefore, in the present study, we evaluated glial cell activation in the trigeminal-spinal system following injection of the Complete Freund's Adjuvant (CFA) into the temporomandibular joint, which generates inflammatory pain and trigeminal hypersensitivity.
CFA-injected animals showed ipsilateral mechanical allodynia and temporomandibular joint edema, accompanied in the trigeminal ganglion by a strong increase in the number of GFAP-positive satellite glial cells encircling neurons and by the activation of resident macrophages. Seventy-two hours after CFA injection, activated microglial cells were observed in the ipsilateral trigeminal subnucleus caudalis and in the cervical dorsal horn, with a significant up-regulation of Iba1 immunoreactivity, but no signs of reactive astrogliosis were detected in the same areas. Since the purinergic system has been implicated in the activation of microglial cells during neuropathic pain, we have also evaluated the expression of the microglial-specific P2Y12 receptor subtype. No upregulation of this receptor was detected following induction of TMJ inflammation, suggesting that any possible role of P2Y12 in this paradigm of inflammatory pain does not involve changes in receptor expression.
Our data indicate that specific glial cell populations become activated in both the trigeminal ganglia and the CNS following induction of temporomandibular joint inflammation, and suggest that they might represent innovative targets for controlling pain during trigeminal nerve sensitization.
PMCID: PMC3017032  PMID: 21143950
6.  Roles of P2 receptors in glial cells: focus on astrocytes 
Purinergic Signalling  2006;2(4):595-604.
Central nervous system glial cells release and respond to nucleotides under both physiological and pathological conditions, suggesting that these molecules play key roles in both normal brain function and in repair after damage. In particular, ATP released from astrocytes activates P2 receptors on astrocytes and other brain cells, allowing a form of homotypic and heterotypic signalling, which also involves microglia, neurons and oligodendrocytes. Multiple P2X and P2Y receptors are expressed by both astrocytes and microglia; however, these receptors are differentially recruited by nucleotides, depending upon specific pathophysiological conditions, and also mediate the long-term trophic changes of these cells during inflammatory gliosis. In astrocytes, P2-receptor-induced gliosis occurs via activation of the extracellular-regulated kinases (ERK) and protein kinase B/Akt pathways and involves induction of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory genes, cyclins, adhesion and antiapoptotic molecules. While astrocytic P2Y1 and P2Y2,4 are primarily involved in short-term calcium-dependent signalling, multiple P2 receptor subtypes seem to cooperate to astrocytic long-term changes. Conversely, in microglia, exposure to inflammatory and immunological stimuli results in differential functional changes of distinct P2 receptors, suggesting highly specific roles in acquisition of the activated phenotype. We believe that nucleotide-induced activation of astrocytes and microglia may originally start as a defence mechanism to protect neurons from cytotoxic and ischaemic insults; dysregulation of this process in chronic inflammatory diseases eventually results in neuronal cell damage and loss. On this basis, full elucidation of the specific roles of P2 receptors in these cells may help exploit the beneficial neuroprotective features of activated glia while attenuating their harmful properties and thus provide the basis for novel neuroprotective strategies that specifically target the purinergic system.
PMCID: PMC2096663  PMID: 18404462
adenine nucleotides; astrocytes; calcium-mediated communication; microglia; neuroprotection; oligodendroglia; P2 receptors; reactive gliosis; sugar nucleotides; uracil nucleotides

Results 1-6 (6)