Purinergic signalling in the liver in health and disease

Geoffrey Burnstock, Byron Vaughn, Simon C. Robson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Purinergic signalling is involved in both the physiology and pathophysiology of the liver. Hepatocytes, Kupffer cells, vascular endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells, stellate cells and cholangiocytes all express purinoceptor subtypes activated by adenosine, adenosine 5′-triphosphate, adenosine diphosphate, uridine 5′-triphosphate or UDP. Purinoceptors mediate bile secretion, glycogen and lipid metabolism and indirectly release of insulin. Mechanical stress results in release of ATP from hepatocytes and Kupffer cells and ATP is also released as a cotransmitter with noradrenaline from sympathetic nerves supplying the liver. Ecto-nucleotidases play important roles in the signalling process. Changes in purinergic signalling occur in vascular injury, inflammation, insulin resistance, hepatic fibrosis, cirrhosis, diabetes, hepatitis, liver regeneration following injury or transplantation and cancer. Purinergic therapeutic strategies for the treatment of these pathologies are being explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-70
Number of pages20
JournalPurinergic Signalling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Cancer
  • Cirrhosis
  • Diabetes
  • Fibrosis
  • Hepatitis
  • Purinoceptors


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