1 Molecular Integrative Physiology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Universität Münster3 Cell Biology and Physiology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet4 Molecular Integrative Physiology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet5 Cell Biology and Physiology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
The pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) have complex roles in pancreas, including tissue repair and fibrosis. PSCs surround ATP releasing exocrine cells, but little is known about purinergic receptors and their function in PSCs. Our aim was to resolve whether PSCs express the multifunctional P2X7 receptor and elucidate how it regulates PSC viability. The number of PSCs isolated from wild type (WT) mice was 50% higher than those from the Pfizer P2X7 receptor knock out (KO) mice. The P2X7 receptor protein and mRNA of all known isoforms were expressed in WT PSCs, while KO PSCs only expressed truncated versions of the receptor. In culture, the proliferation rate of the KO PSCs was significantly lower. Inclusion of apyrase reduced the proliferation rate in both WT and KO PSCs, indicating importance of endogenous ATP. Exogenous ATP had a two-sided effect. Proliferation of both WT and KO cells was stimulated with ATP in a concentration-dependent manner with a maximum effect at 100 µM. At high ATP concentration (5 mM), WT PSCs, but not the KO PSCs died. The intracellular Ca(2+) signals and proliferation rate induced by micromolar ATP concentrations were inhibited by the allosteric P2X7 receptor inhibitor az10606120. The P2X7 receptor-pore inhibitor A438079 partially prevented cell death induced by millimolar ATP concentrations. This study shows that ATP and P2X7 receptors are important regulators of PSC proliferation and death, and therefore might be potential targets for treatments of pancreatic fibrosis and cancer.