The pharmacology of nucleotide receptors on primary rat brain endothelial cells grown on a biological extracellular matrix: effects on intracellular calcium concentration


Department of Medical Biochemistry, Semmelweis University, Budapest, H-1444, P.O. Box 262, Hungary. E-mail:


  • Brain capillary endothelial cells express a variety of nucleotide receptors, but differences have been reported between culture models. This study reports examination of nucleotide receptors on primary cultured rat brain capillary endothelial cells (RBCEC) grown on a biological extracellular matrix (ECM) to produce a more differentiated phenotype.

  • Fura-2 fluorescence ratio imaging was used to monitor intracellular free calcium concentration [Ca2+]i. ATP, UTP, and 2-methylthioATP (2-MeSATP) increased [Ca2+]i to similar levels, while 2-MeSADP, ADP and adenosine gave smaller responses.

  • Removal of extracellular calcium caused no significant change in the [Ca2+]i response to 2-MeSATP, evidence that the response was mediated by a metabotropic (P2Y) receptor.

  • All cells tested responded to ATP, UTP, 2-MeSATP and ADP, while 63% responded to adenosine and 50% to 2-MeSADP. No cells responded to α,β-methyleneATP. Cells grown on rat tail collagen instead of ECM gave smaller and less uniform [Ca2+]i responses, suggesting that the differentiating effect of the ECM contributed to a more uniform receptor profile.

  • The [Ca2+]i response to the P2Y1-selective agonist 2-MeSADP was abolished in the presence of the subtype-selective antagonist adenosine 3′-phosphate 5′-phosphosulphate (PAPS).

  • The P2Y2 antagonist suramin completely blocked the response to ATP and inhibited the response to UTP by 66%.

  • The A1 subtype-selective adenosine receptor agonist N6-Cyclopentyladenosine (CPA) gave a small but characteristic [Ca2+]i response, while A2A and A2B subtype-selective agonists failed to generate [Ca2+]i changes.

  • The results are consistent with the presence on RBCEC of a P2Y2-like receptor coupled to phospholipase C, and a P2Y1-like receptor mobilizing intracellular Ca2+. The role of multiple nucleotide receptors in the function of the brain endothelium is discussed.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2000) 131, 1195–1203; doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0703675