P2X7 receptor activation induces inflammatory responses in salivary gland epithelium

Lucas T. Woods, Jean M. Camden, Josef M. Batek, Michael J. Petris, Laurie Erb, Gary A. Weisman


Inflammation of the salivary gland is a well-documented aspect of salivary gland dysfunction that occurs in Sjogren's syndrome (SS), an autoimmune disease, and in γ-radiation-induced injury during treatment of head and neck cancers. Extracellular nucleotides have gained recognition as key modulators of inflammation through activation of cell surface ionotropic and metabotropic receptors, although the contribution of extracellular nucleotides to salivary gland inflammation is not well understood. In vitro studies using submandibular gland (SMG) cell aggregates isolated from wild-type C57BL/6 mice indicate that treatment with ATP or the high affinity P2X7R agonist 3′-O-(4-benzoyl)benzoyl-ATP (BzATP) induces membrane blebbing and enhances caspase activity, responses that were absent in SMG cell aggregates isolated from mice lacking the P2X7R (P2X7R−/−). Additional studies with SMG cell aggregates indicate that activation of the P2X7R with ATP or BzATP stimulates the cleavage and release of α-fodrin, a cytoskeletal protein thought to act as an autoantigen in the development of SS. In vivo administration of BzATP to ligated SMG excretory ducts enhances immune cell infiltration into the gland and initiates apoptosis of salivary epithelial cells in wild-type, but not P2X7R−/−, mice. These findings indicate that activation of the P2X7R contributes to salivary gland inflammation in vivo, suggesting that the P2X7R may represent a novel target for the treatment of salivary gland dysfunction.

  • salivary gland degeneration
  • apoptosis
  • proinflammatory response
  • Sjogren's syndrome
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