A novel P2X2-dependent purinergic mechanism of enteric gliosis in intestinal inflammation

Reiner Schneider, Patrick Leven, Tim Glowka, Ivan Kuzmanov, Mariola Lysson, Bianca Schneiker, Anna Miesen, Younis Baqi, Claudia Spanier, Iveta Grants, Elvio Mazzotta, Egina Villalobos-Hernandez, Jörg C. Kalff, Christa E. Müller, Fedias L. Christofi, Sven Wehner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Enteric glial cells (EGC) modulate motility, maintain gut homeostasis, and contribute to neuroinflammation in intestinal diseases and motility disorders. Damage induces a reactive glial phenotype known as “gliosis”, but the molecular identity of the inducing mechanism and triggers of “enteric gliosis” are poorly understood. We tested the hypothesis that surgical trauma during intestinal surgery triggers ATP release that drives enteric gliosis and inflammation leading to impaired motility in postoperative ileus (POI). ATP activation of a p38-dependent MAPK pathway triggers cytokine release and a gliosis phenotype in murine (and human) EGCs. Receptor antagonism and genetic depletion studies revealed P2X2 as the relevant ATP receptor and pharmacological screenings identified ambroxol as a novel P2X2 antagonist. Ambroxol prevented ATP-induced enteric gliosis, inflammation, and protected against dysmotility, while abrogating enteric gliosis in human intestine exposed to surgical trauma. We identified a novel pathogenic P2X2-dependent pathway of ATP-induced enteric gliosis, inflammation and dysmotility in humans and mice. Interventions that block enteric glial P2X2 receptors during trauma may represent a novel therapy in treating POI and immune-driven intestinal motility disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12724
JournalEMBO Molecular Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 11 2021


  • enteric nervous system
  • gut inflammation
  • motility disorders
  • postoperative ileus
  • purinergic signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine


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