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Microglia, the primary immune cells in the central nervous system (CNS), are key to the maintenance of homeostasis in the brain parenchyma. In the intact brain, microglia continuously survey the microenvironment with ramified processes. Upon disease and/or damage, they rapidly convert into an amoeboid morphology, move toward the injury, and release cytokines to repair damage or clear debris. Purinergic signaling plays an important role in regulating microglial dynamics and immune responses. Specific purinergic receptors have been shown to participate in different aspects of microglial responses in the normal and diseased brains. In this review, we focus on the role of purinergic signaling-mediated microglial responses under physiological and pathological conditions.

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The role of purinergic signaling in microglial responses

Show Author's information Yaling Hu1,2Zhihua Gao1,2( )
 Department of Neurobiology & Department of Neurology, the Second Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310058, China
 NHC and CAMS Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology, MOE Frontier Science Center for Brain Research and Brain–Machine Integration, School of Brain Science and Brain Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China


Microglia, the primary immune cells in the central nervous system (CNS), are key to the maintenance of homeostasis in the brain parenchyma. In the intact brain, microglia continuously survey the microenvironment with ramified processes. Upon disease and/or damage, they rapidly convert into an amoeboid morphology, move toward the injury, and release cytokines to repair damage or clear debris. Purinergic signaling plays an important role in regulating microglial dynamics and immune responses. Specific purinergic receptors have been shown to participate in different aspects of microglial responses in the normal and diseased brains. In this review, we focus on the role of purinergic signaling-mediated microglial responses under physiological and pathological conditions.

Keywords: microglia, purinergic signaling, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), purinergic type 1 (P1) receptors, purinergic type 2 (P2) receptors


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Publication history

Received: 02 March 2020
Revised: 28 June 2020
Accepted: 22 July 2020
Published: 10 March 2021
Issue date: September 2021


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