Purinergic signaling in epilepsy

J Neurosci Res. 2016 Sep;94(9):781-93. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23770. Epub 2016 Jun 14.


Until recently, analysis of the mechanisms underlying epilepsy was centered on neuron dysfunctions. Accordingly, most of the available pharmacological treatments aim at reducing neuronal excitation or at potentiating neuronal inhibition. These therapeutic options can lead to obvious secondary effects, and, moreover, seizures cannot be controlled by any known medication in one-third of the patients. A purely neurocentric view of brain functions and dysfunctions has been seriously questioned during the past 2 decades because of the accumulation of experimental data showing the functional importance of reciprocal interactions between glial cells and neurons. In the case of epilepsy, our current knowledge of the human disease and analysis of animal models clearly favor the involvement of astrocytes and microglial cells during the progression of the disease, including at very early stages, opening the way to the identification of new therapeutic targets. Purinergic signaling is a fundamental feature of neuron-glia interactions, and increasing evidence indicates that modifications of this pathway contribute to the functional remodeling of the epileptic brain. This Review discusses the recent experimental results indicating the roles of astrocytic and microglial P2X and P2Y receptors in epilepsy. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: ATP; P2X; P2Y; astrocyte; microglia; seizure; status epilepticus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Epilepsy / metabolism
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Purines*
  • Receptors, Purinergic / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Purines
  • Receptors, Purinergic