Pro- and anti-inflammatory macrophages express a sub-type specific purinergic receptor profile

Purinergic Signal. 2021 Sep;17(3):481-492. doi: 10.1007/s11302-021-09798-3. Epub 2021 Jul 20.


Extracellular nucleotides act as danger signals that orchestrate inflammation by purinergic receptor activation. The expression pattern of different purinergic receptors may correlate with a pro- or anti-inflammatory phenotype. Macrophages function as pro-inflammatory M1 macrophages (M1) or anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages (M2). The present study found that murine bone marrow-derived macrophages express a unique purinergic receptor profile during in vitro polarization. As assessed by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Gαs-coupled P1 receptors A2A and A2B are upregulated in M1 and M2 compared to M0, but A2A 15 times higher in M1. The ionotropic P2 receptor P2X5 is selectively upregulated in M1- and M2-polarized macrophages. P2X7 is temporarily expressed in M1 macrophages. Metabotropic P2Y receptors showed a distinct expression profile in M1 and M2-polarized macrophages: Gαq coupled P2Y1 and P2Y6 are exclusively upregulated in M2, whereas Gαi P2Y13 and P2Y14 are overexpressed in M1. This consequently leads to functional differences between M1 and M2 in response to adenosine di-phosphate stimulation (ADP): In contrast to M1, M2 showed increased cytoplasmatic calcium after ADP stimulation. In the present study we show that bone marrow-derived macrophages express a unique repertoire of purinergic receptors. We show for the first time that the repertoire of purinergic receptors is highly flexible and quickly adapts upon pro- and anti-inflammatory macrophage differentiation with functional consequences to nucleotide stimulation.

Keywords: Macrophages; Polarization; Purinergic receptor: Inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Purinergic / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Purinergic / genetics
  • Transcriptome / physiology*


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Receptors, Purinergic