Nucleotides are emerging as an ubiquitous family of extracellular signaling molecules. It has been known for many years that adenosine diphosphate is a potent platelet aggregating factor, but it is now clear that virtually every circulating cell is responsive to nucleotides. Effects as different as proliferation or differentiation, chemotaxis, release of cytokines or lysosomal constituents, and generation of reactive oxygen or nitrogen species are elicited upon stimulation of blood cells with extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP). These effects are mediated through a specific class of plasma membrane receptors called purinergic P2 receptors that, according to the molecular structure, are further subdivided into 2 subfamilies: P2Y and P2X. ATP and possibly other nucleotides are released from damaged cells or secreted via nonlytic mechanisms. Thus, during inflammation or vascular damage, nucleotides may provide an important mechanism involved in the activation of leukocytes and platelets. However, the cell physiology of these receptors is still at its dawn, and the precise function of the multiple P2X and P2Y receptor subtypes remains to be understood
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