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Sci. Signal., 3 February 2009
Vol. 2, Issue 56, p. pe6
[DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.256pe6]


Extracellular ATP in the Immune System: More Than Just a "Danger Signal"

Alain Trautmann

Institut Cochin, Université Paris Descartes, CNRS (UMR 8104), Paris, France. Inserm, U567, Paris, France.

Abstract: Extracellular adenosine 5'-triphosphate (eATP) is ubiquitously used for cell-to-cell communication. The low concentration of eATP ([eATP]) that exists in a "halo" surrounding resting cells signals the presence of neighboring living cells. Transient increases in [eATP] are used for basic physiological signaling, namely, in the nervous and vascular systems. Larger increases in [eATP] that are associated with cell death serve as a key "danger" signal in inflammatory processes. Two studies now point to roles for ATP in the immune system: providing a costimulatory signal to T cells and driving the differentiation of intestinal T helper 17 (TH17) cells.

* Corresponding author. E-mail: alain.trautmann{at}

Citation: A. Trautmann, Extracellular ATP in the Immune System: More Than Just a "Danger Signal". Sci. Signal. 2, pe6 (2009).

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