Purinergic signalling, i.e. ATP as an extracellular signalling molecule and cotransmitter in
both peripheral and central neurons, is involved in the physiology of neurotransmission and neuromodulation.
Receptors for purines have been cloned and characterised, including 4 subtypes of the
P1(adenosine) receptor family, 7 subtypes of the P2X ion channel nucleotide receptor family and 8 subtypes
of the P2Y G protein-coupled nucleotide receptor family. The roles of purinergic signalling in diseases
of the central nervous system and the potential use of purinergic compounds for their treatment
are attracting increasing attention. In this review, the focus is on the findings reported in recent papers
and reviews to update knowledge in this field about the involvement of purinergic signalling in Alzheimer’s,
Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, degeneration
and regeneration after brain injury, stroke, ischaemia, inflammation, migraine, epilepsy, psychiatric
disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, addiction, sleep disorders and brain tumours.
The use in particular of P2X7 receptor antagonists for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, cancer,
depression, stroke and ischaemia, A2A receptor antagonists for Parkinson’s disease and agonists for
brain injury and depression and P2X3 receptor antagonists for migraine and seizures has been recommended.
P2Y receptors have also been claimed to be involved in some central nervous disorders.