Gap junctions and connexin-mediated communication in the immune system

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Mar 23;1662(1-2):102-12. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2003.10.021.


Gap junctions and connexins are present in the immune system. In haematopoiesis, connexin 43, the most widely distributed gap junction protein, appears to be a key player in the development of progenitor cells and their communication with stromal cells. Connexin 43 is expressed by macrophages, neutrophils and mast cells. Lymphocytes also express connexin 43, and inhibition of gap junction channels in these cells by using highly specific connexin mimetic reagents has profound effects on immunoglobulin secretion and synthesis of cytokines. Lymphocytes and leukocytes also communicate directly in vitro with endothelial cells via gap junctions. Connexins are implicated in inflammatory reactions in a range of tissues. Their involvement in atherosclerotic plaque formation in the vascular system is also a current growth point in research, and could lead to the development of therapeutic interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / immunology
  • Connexin 43 / immunology
  • Connexins / immunology*
  • Gap Junctions / immunology*
  • Hematopoiesis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Models, Immunological


  • Connexin 43
  • Connexins