Trophic actions of extracellular nucleotides and nucleosides on glial and neuronal cells
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In addition to their well-established roles as neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, growing evidence suggests that nucleotides and nucleosides might also act as trophic factors in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Specific extracellular receptor subtypes for these compounds are expressed on neurons, glial and endothelial cells, where they mediate strikingly different effects. These range from induction of cell differentiation and apoptosis, mitogenesis and morphogenetic changes, to stimulation of synthesis or release, or both, of cytokines and neurotrophic factors, both under physiological and pathological conditions. Nucleotides and nucleosides might be involved in the regulation of development and plasticity of the nervous system, and in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disorders. Receptors for nucleotides and nucleosides could represent a novel target for the development of therapeutic strategies to treat incurable diseases of the nervous system, including trauma- and ischemia-associated neurodegeneration, demyelinating and aging-associated cognitive disorders.
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