The Role of the Purinergic P2X7 Receptor in Small Intestinal Inflammation

  • Szu-Wei Huang

    Student thesis: Phd


    The purinergic P2X7 receptor (P2X7R), an adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-gated receptor, is widely distributed in a variety of cell types such as neuron cells, immune cells and epithelial cells. P2X7R on cells senses extracellular ATP released from dying cells which then acts as a danger signal and initiates inflammation. Activation of P2X7R results in various downstream events, including Ca2+ influx, nonselective membrane pore formation, cell death, assembly of the inflammasome, and killing of intracellular pathogens. Epithelial cells in the gut also express P2X7R and act as a sentinel that protects against infection and responds to changes in environmental stimuli. However, the role of P2X7R in IECs is poorly defined. Given that infection of pathogens often causes cellular damage and the released ATP may be sensed by P2X7R, we hypothesised that IECs initiate intestinal inflammation via activation of the P2X7R in response to infection. Thus, the aim of this thesis was to characterise the role of P2X7R in the initiation and development of small intestinal inflammation. In order to achieve this aim, we used two parasite-induced murine ileitis models, Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) and Trichinella spiralis (T. spiralis), which induce Th1 and Th2 immunity respectively. In the in vivo model of T. gondii infection, we found that P2X7R deficiency was associated with less intestinal epithelial responsiveness to the infection. The P2X7R-/- IECs had reduced CCL5 and CCL20 chemokine expression which was associated with reduced recruitment of CD103+CD11b- dendritic cells (DCs) to the small intestinal epithelium at day 1 post infection (p.i.). This finding was supported by infection of bone marrow chimeras showing a decrease in the recruitment of WT P2X7R+/+ CD103+ DCs to a P2X7R-/- epithelium. To address whether the reduced DC response impacted on development of adaptive immunity, we analysed serum IFN-g and the proportion of splenic IFN-g+CD4+ T cells at day 8 p.i., and showed they were reduced in P2X7R-/- mice.In the in vivo model of T. spiralis infection, P2X7R deficiency was also associated with reduced intestinal epithelial responsiveness to this infection characterised by lower CCL5 expression in IECs. A significant decrease in the recruitment of CD103+CD11b+ DCs at day 2 p.i. was noted in P2X7R-/- animals, and the importance of epithelial P2X7R in DC recruitment was confirmed using bone marrow chimeras. The P2X7R-/- mice, compared with the WT, had delayed progression of small intestinal inflammation, accompanied by a reduction in the percentage of IL-4+CD4+ T cells and IL-4 levels at day 8 p.i.. The reduced IL-4 response was associated with a delayed worm expulsion in the P2X7R-/- mice at day 12 p.i..An in vitro study demonstrated that P2X7R blockade using the chemical inhibitor A-740003, significantly decreased CCL5, IL-6 and TNF-a secretion from mouse intestinal epithelial CMT-93 cells in response to T. gondii infection. A similar decrease in the level of CCL5 produced was also observed using primary P2X7R-/- intestinal crypt cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) compared with WT cells. This data indicates a proinflammatory role for P2X7R during infection. Although P2X7R signalling is known to induce the assembly of the inflammasome, IECs did not secrete the inflammasome-associated cytokines IL-1b and IL-18 in response to T. gondii infection. Moreover, P2X7R signalling had no effect on the induction of cell death in T. gondii-infected IECs. Interestingly, there was a novel finding that P2X7R antagonism inhibited T. gondii infectivity in CMT-93 cells.In summary, we have shown that P2X7R signalling mediated CCL5 expression in IECs in response to infection. Epithelial chemokines are important for the initiation of small intestinal inflammation via recruitment of innate cells such as DCs which can then prime for protective adaptive immunity. These results in this thesis improve the understanding of the role of P2X7R in the inte
    Date of Award31 Dec 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorKathryn Else (Supervisor) & Sheena Cruickshank (Supervisor)


    • dendritic cell
    • P2X7

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