Role of purinergic signalling in endothelial dysfunction and thrombo-inflammation in ischaemic stroke and cerebral small vessel disease

Natasha Ting Lee, Lin Kooi Ong, Prajwal Gyawali, Che Mohd Nasril Che Mohd Nassir, Muzaimi Mustapha, Harshal H. Nandurkar, Maithili Sashindranath

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The cerebral endothelium is an active interface between blood and the central nervous system. In addition to being a physical barrier between the blood and the brain, the endothelium also actively regulates metabolic homeostasis, vascular tone and permeability, coagulation, and movement of immune cells. Being part of the blood–brain barrier, endothelial cells of the brain have specialized morphology, physiology, and phenotypes due to their unique microenvironment. Known cardiovascular risk factors facilitate cerebral endothelial dysfunction, leading to impaired vasodilation, an aggravated inflammatory response, as well as increased oxidative stress and vascular proliferation. This culminates in the thrombo-inflammatory response, an underlying cause of ischemic stroke and cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD). These events are further exacerbated when blood flow is returned to the brain after a period of ischemia, a phenomenon termed ischemia-reperfusion injury. Purinergic signaling is an endogenous molecular pathway in which the enzymes CD39 and CD73 catabolize extracellular adenosine triphosphate (eATP) to adenosine. After ischemia and CSVD, eATP is released from dying neurons as a damage molecule, triggering thrombosis and inflammation. In contrast, adenosine is anti-thrombotic, protects against oxidative stress, and suppresses the immune response. Evidently, therapies that promote adenosine generation or boost CD39 activity at the site of endothelial injury have promising benefits in the context of atherothrombotic stroke and can be extended to current CSVD known pathomechanisms. Here, we have reviewed the rationale and benefits of CD39 and CD39 therapies to treat endothelial dysfunction in the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number994
Number of pages15
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Brain
  • CD39
  • Endothelial cells
  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • Purinergic signaling
  • Stroke

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