Extracellular ATP as a possible mediator of cell-mediated cytotoxicity

Immunol Today. 1990 Aug;11(8):274-7. doi: 10.1016/0167-5699(90)90111-l.


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and natural killer (NK) cells lyse target cells by a specialized mechanism that involves the release of soluble 'killer' mediators. While several possible mediators have been demonstrated, it is likely that others have yet to be identified. For more than two decades it has been known that exogenous ATP is lytic to many cell types. In this article Francesco Di Virgilio and colleagues propose that extracellular ATP may be a mediator of cytotoxic cell-dependent lysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / pharmacology
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic*
  • Extracellular Space / physiology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Receptors, Purinergic / metabolism
  • Second Messenger Systems
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / physiology*


  • Receptors, Purinergic
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Calcium