The aim of this study is to investigate the expression of P2X7R, IL-1beta and the ATP activity modulating ecto-apyrase CD39 on peripheral blood monocytes of MS patients and to observe the possible effects of Glatiramer Acetate (GA) on such expression. Twelve RR treatment-free MS patients were selected and peripheral blood monocytes were obtained. The expression of P2X7R, IL-1beta and CD39 on monocytes was investigated by qrt-PCR. The in vitro effects of GA on the expression of monocytes stimulated with BzATP (a potent P2X7R agonist)-were evaluated. Ten healthy donors (HDs) were similarly studied. Finally, 5 MS patients were given GA therapy and the monocytes obtained before treatment, after 3 and 12 months of GA treatment were similarly investigated. No differences were found in P2X7R, IL-1beta and CD39 expression between patients and controls. In MS Bz-ATP stimulated monocytes, GA pre-conditioning clearly downregulated P2X7R (p=0.003) but IL-1beta expression also showed a decreasing trend (p=0.07). Conversely, CD39 showed an increasing trend (p=0.07). Similar evidence was found in HDs. GA in vivo treatment induced a reduction in the expression that was clear for P2X7R and CD39 (p<0.05) but only not significant for IL-1beta after 12 months of treatment. Monocytes from both MS and control subjects express P2X7R, IL-1beta and CD39, and GA seems to interfere with such expression.
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