Involvement of P2X7 Receptors in the Osteogenic Differentiation of Mesenchymal Stromal/Stem Cells Derived from Human Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue

Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2019 Aug;15(4):574-589. doi: 10.1007/s12015-019-09883-6.


The ionotropic P2X7 receptor (P2X7R) is involved in bone homeostasis but its role in osteogenesis is controversial. Thus, we investigated the expression of P2X7R and the effects exerted by its modulation in mesenchymal stromal cells from human subcutaneous adipose tissue (S-ASCs), which have potential therapeutic application in bone regenerative medicine. We found that undifferentiated S-ASCs expressed P2X7R and its functional splice variants P2X7AR and P2X7BR. Cell stimulation by P2X7R agonist BzATP (100 μM) neither modified proliferation nor caused membrane pore opening while increasing intracellular Ca2+ levels and migration. The P2X7R antagonist A438079 reversed these effects. However, 25-100 μM BzATP, administered to S-ASCs undergoing osteogenic differentiation, dose-dependently decreased extracellular matrix mineralization and expression of osteogenic transcription factors Runx2, alkaline phosphatase and osteopontin. These effects were not coupled to cell proliferation reduction or to cell death increase, but were associated to decrease in P2X7AR and P2X7BR expression. In contrast, expression of P2X7R, especially P2X7BR isoform, significantly increased during the osteogenic process. Noteworthy, the antagonist A438079, administered alone, at first restrained cell differentiation, enhancing it later. Accordingly, A438079 reversed BzATP effects only in the second phase of S-ASCs osteogenic differentiation. Apyrase, a diphosphohydrolase converting ATP/ADP into AMP, showed a similar behavior. Altogether, findings related to A438079 or apyrase effects suggest an earlier and prevailing pro-osteogenic activity by endogenous ATP and a later one by adenosine derived from endogenous ATP metabolism. Conversely, P2X7R pharmacological stimulation by BzATP, mimicking the effects of high ATP levels occurring during tissue injuries, depressed receptor expression/activity impairing MSC osteogenic differentiation.

Keywords: ATP analogues; Osteogenic differentiation; P2X7 receptors; Regenerative medicine; Subcutaneous adipose tissue-derived stromal stem cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / pharmacology
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Osteogenesis*
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X7 / metabolism*
  • Subcutaneous Fat / cytology
  • Subcutaneous Fat / metabolism*


  • P2RX7 protein, human
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X7
  • 3'-O-(4-benzoyl)benzoyladenosine 5'-triphosphate
  • Adenosine Triphosphate