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Jing Nie, Guang-long Huang, Sheng-Ze Deng, Yun Bao, Ya-Wei Liu, Zhan-Peng Feng, Chao-Hu Wang, Ming Chen, Song-Tao Qi, and Jun Pan

Craniopharyngiomas (CPs) are usually benign, non-metastasizing embryonic malformations originating from the sellar area. They are, however, locally invasive and generate adherent interfaces with the surrounding brain parenchyma. Previous studies have shown the tumor microenvironment is characterized by a local abundance of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), infiltration of leukocytes and elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines that are thought to be responsible, at least in part, for the local invasion. Here, we examine whether ATP, via the P2X7R, participates in the regulation of cytokine expression in CPs. The expression of P2X7R and pro-inflammatory cytokines were measured at the RNA and protein levels both in tumor samples and in primary cultured tumor cells. Furthermore, cytokine modulation was measured after manipulating P2X7R in cultured tumor cells by siRNA-mediated knockdown, as well as pharmacologically by using selective agonists and antagonists. The following results were observed. A number of cytokines, in particular IL-6, IL-8 and MCP-1, were elevated in patient plasma, tumor tissue and cultured tumor cells. P2X7R was expressed in tumor tissue as well as in cultured tumor cells. RNA expression as measured in 48 resected tumors was positively correlated with the RNA levels of IL-6, IL-8 and MCP-1 in tumors. Furthermore, knockdown of P2X7R in primary tumor cultures reduced, and stimulation of P2XR7 by a specific agonist enhanced the expression of these cytokines. This latter stimulation involved a Ca2+-dependent mechanism and could be counteracted by the addition of an antagonist. In conclusion, the results suggest that P2X7R may promote IL-6, IL-8 and MCP-1 production and secretion and contribute to the invasion and adhesion of CPs to the surrounding tissue.