Departmental Papers (Dental)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Journal of Neuroinflammation





Start Page

Article number 217




Background: The identification of endogenous signals that lead to microglial activation is a key step in understanding neuroinflammatory cascades. As ATP release accompanies mechanical strain to neural tissue, and as the P2X7 receptor for ATP is expressed on microglial cells, we examined the morphological and molecular consequences of P2X7 receptor stimulation in vivo and in vitro and investigated the contribution of the P2X7 receptor in a model of increased intraocular pressure (IOP). Methods: In vivo experiments involved intravitreal injections and both transient and sustained elevation of IOP. In vitro experiments were performed on isolated mouse retinal and brain microglial cells. Morphological changes were quantified in vivo using Sholl analysis. Expression of mRNA for M1- and M2-like genes was determined with qPCR. The luciferin/luciferase assay quantified retinal ATP release while fura-2 indicated cytoplasmic calcium. Microglial migration was monitored with a Boyden chamber. Results: Sholl analysis of Iba1-stained cells showed retraction of microglial ramifications 1 day after injection of P2X7 receptor agonist BzATP into mouse retinae. Mean branch length of ramifications also decreased, while cell body size and expression of Nos2, Tnfa, Arg1, and Chil3 mRNA increased. BzATP induced similar morphological changes in ex vivo tissue isolated from Cx3CR1+/GFP mice, suggesting recruitment of external cells was unnecessary. Immunohistochemistry suggested primary microglial cultures expressed the P2X7 receptor, while functional expression was demonstrated with Ca2+ elevation by BzATP and block by specific antagonist A839977. BzATP induced process retraction and cell body enlargement within minutes in isolated microglial cells and increased Nos2 and Arg1. While ATP increased microglial migration, this required the P2Y12 receptor and not P2X7 receptor. Transient elevation of IOP led to microglial process retraction, cell body enlargement, and gene upregulation paralleling changes observed with BzATP injection, in addition to retinal ATP release. Pressure-dependent changes were reduced in P2X7−/− mice. Death of retinal ganglion cells accompanied increased IOP in C57Bl/6J, but not P2X7−/− mice, and neuronal loss showed some association with microglial activation. Conclusions: P2X7 receptor stimulation induced rapid morphological activation of microglial cells, including process retraction and cell body enlargement, and upregulation of markers linked to both M1- and M2-type activation. Parallel responses accompanied IOP elevation, suggesting ATP release and P2X7 receptor stimulation influence the early microglial response to increased pressure. © 2021, The Author(s).


ATP release, Chemoattraction migration, Glaucoma, Iba1, Intraocular pressure, Microglial M1/M2 activation, Neuroinflammation, P2X7 receptor, P2Y12 receptor, Sholl analysis, Traumatic brain injury, Animals, Glaucoma, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Microglia, Receptors, Purinergic P2X7, Up-Regulation, adenosine triphosphate, calcium, messenger RNA, purinergic P2X7 receptor, purinergic P2Y12 receptor, purinergic P2X7 receptor, adult, animal cell, animal experiment, animal tissue, Article, body size, cell activation, cell culture, cell enlargement, cell isolation, cell migration, cell size, controlled study, ex vivo study, female, gene expression, immunohistochemistry, in vitro study, in vivo study, intraocular pressure, luciferase assay, male, microglia, mouse, nonhuman, polymerase chain reaction, pressure measurement, retina ganglion cell, sensory receptor, upregulation, animal, C57BL mouse, glaucoma, metabolism, pathology, upregulation

Included in

Dentistry Commons



Date Posted: 10 February 2023

This document has been peer reviewed.