Journal article Open Access
Extracellular adenosine 5'-triphosphate (eATP) is ubiquitously used for cell-to-cell communication. The low concentration of eATP ([eATP]) that exists in a "halo" surrounding resting cells signals the presence of neighboring living cells. Transient increases in [eATP] are used for basic physiological signaling, namely, in the nervous and vascular systems. Larger increases in [eATP] that are associated with cell death serve as a key "danger" signal in inflammatory processes. Two studies now point to roles for ATP in the immune system: providing a costimulatory signal to T cells and driving the differentiation of intestinal T helper 17 (T(H)17) cells.