P2X7 receptor antagonism inhibits tumour growth in human high-grade gliomas

Liyen Katrina Kan, Sinali Seneviratne, Kate J. Drummond, David A. Williams, Terence J. O’Brien, Mastura Monif

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Gliomas, the most common primary brain cancer, are highly infiltrative and extremely difficult to treat. Despite advancements, current treatment is limited, with patients surviving for a median of 14–15 months post-diagnosis. Previous research has demonstrated the upregulation of a purinergic receptor, P2X7R, in human gliomas. P2X7R is expressed on both glioma cells and microglia within the glioma microenvironment. It is hypothesized that P2X7R contributes to tumour growth and proliferation via immune-mediated mechanisms involving tumour cells and surrounding microglia. We sought to elucidate the role of P2X7R in a human glioblastoma cell line (U251) and on surgically resected human glioma samples. We treated U251 and human glioma cultures for 72 h with P2X7R antagonists, Brilliant Blue G (BBG), oxidized ATP (oATP) and AZ10606120. Cell counting via fluorescence confocal microscopy was conducted to assess tumour proliferation. We observed no significant reductions in tumour cell numbers following P2X7R antagonism with BBG (20 μM) and oATP (250 μM) in both U251 cells and human glioma samples. Interestingly, there was a significant reduction in tumour cell number in both U251 cells (p = 0.0156) and human glioma samples (p = 0.0476) treated with varying concentrations of AZ10606120. When compared with the conventional chemotherapeutic agent, temozolomide, AZ10606120 was also found to more effectively inhibit tumour proliferation in U251 cells (p < 0.0001). Our pilot results demonstrate a potential trophic role of P2X7R where its inhibition by AZ10606120, a potent antagonist, hinders glioma growth directly or through the inactivation of microglia. This sheds new light on P2X7R as a therapeutic target for human gliomas.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalPurinergic Signalling
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Jun 2020


  • Cancer
  • Glioblastoma
  • Glioma
  • P2X7 receptor
  • P2X7R

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