Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells: Is There a Role for Purine Receptors in Their Osteogenic Differentiation?


Carluccio M, Ziberi S, Zuccarini M, Giuliani P, Caciagli F, Di Iorio P, Ciccarelli R.

Purinergic Signal. 2020


The role played by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in contributing to adult tissue homeostasis and damage repair thanks to their differentiation capabilities has raised a great interest, mainly in bone regenerative medicine. The growth/function of these undifferentiated cells of mesodermal origin, located in specialized structures (niches) of differentiated organs is influenced by substances present in this microenvironment. Among them, ancestral and ubiquitous molecules such as adenine-based purines, i.e., ATP and adenosine, may be included. Notably, extracellular purine concentrations greatly increase during tissue injury; thus, MSCs are exposed to effects mediated by these agents interacting with their own receptors when they act/migrate in vivo or are transplanted into a damaged tissue. Here, we reported that ATP modulates MSC osteogenic differentiation via different P2Y and P2X receptors, but data are often inconclusive/contradictory so that the ATP receptor importance for MSC physiology/differentiation into osteoblasts is yet undetermined. An exception is represented by P2X7 receptors, whose expression was shown at various differentiation stages of bone cells resulting essential for differentiation/survival of both osteoclasts and osteoblasts. As well, adenosine, usually derived from extracellular ATP metabolism, can promote osteogenesis, likely via A2B receptors, even though findings from human MSCs should be implemented and confirmed in preclinical models. Therefore, although many data have revealed possible effects caused by extracellular purines in bone healing/remodeling, further studies, hopefully performed in in vivo models, are necessary to identify defined roles for these compounds in favoring/increasing the pro-osteogenic properties of MSCs and thereby their usefulness in bone regenerative medicine.

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