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

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Sci. Signal.  03 Feb 2009:
Vol. 2, Issue 56, pp. pe6
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.256pe6

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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.

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