Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Lipid phosphate phosphatase inhibitors locally amplify lysophosphatidic acid LPA1 receptor signalling in rat brain cryosections without affecting global LPA degradation

Niina Aaltonen1*, Marko Lehtonen1, Katri Varonen1, Gemma Arrufat Goterris1 and Jarmo T Laitinen2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, 70211, Kuopio, Finland

2 School of Medicine, Institute of Biomedicine/Physiology, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, 70211, Kuopio, Finland

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Pharmacology 2012, 12:7  doi:10.1186/1471-2210-12-7

Published: 11 June 2012



Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is a signalling phospholipid with multiple biological functions, mainly mediated through specific G protein-coupled receptors. Aberrant LPA signalling is being increasingly implicated in the pathology of common human diseases, such as arteriosclerosis and cancer. The lifetime of the signalling pool of LPA is controlled by the equilibrium between synthesizing and degradative enzymatic activity. In the current study, we have characterized these enzymatic pathways in rat brain by pharmacologically manipulating the enzymatic machinery required for LPA degradation.


In rat brain cryosections, the lifetime of bioactive LPA was found to be controlled by Mg2+-independent, N-ethylmaleimide-insensitive phosphatase activity, attributed to lipid phosphate phosphatases (LPPs). Pharmacological inhibition of this LPP activity amplified LPA1 receptor signalling, as revealed using functional autoradiography. Although two LPP inhibitors, sodium orthovanadate and propranolol, locally amplified receptor responses, they did not affect global brain LPA phosphatase activity (also attributed to Mg2+-independent, N-ethylmaleimide-insensitive phosphatases), as confirmed by Pi determination and by LC/MS/MS. Interestingly, the phosphate analog, aluminium fluoride (AlFx-) not only irreversibly inhibited LPP activity thereby potentiating LPA1 receptor responses, but also totally prevented LPA degradation, however this latter effect was not essential in order to observe AlFx--dependent potentiation of receptor signalling.


We conclude that vanadate- and propranolol-sensitive LPP activity locally guards the signalling pool of LPA whereas the majority of brain LPA phosphatase activity is attributed to LPP-like enzymatic activity which, like LPP activity, is sensitive to AlFx- but resistant to the LPP inhibitors, vanadate and propranolol.