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1.  Adenosine and the Auditory System 
Current Neuropharmacology  2009;7(3):246-256.
Adenosine is a signalling molecule that modulates cellular activity in the central nervous system and peripheral organs via four G protein-coupled receptors designated A1, A2A, A2B, and A3. This review surveys the literature on the role of adenosine in auditory function, particularly cochlear function and its protection from oxidative stress. The specific tissue distribution of adenosine receptors in the mammalian cochlea implicates adenosine signalling in sensory transduction and auditory neurotransmission although functional studies have demonstrated that adenosine stimulates cochlear blood flow, but does not alter the resting and sound-evoked auditory potentials. An interest in a potential otoprotective role for adenosine has recently evolved, fuelled by the capacity of A1 adenosine receptors to prevent cochlear injury caused by acoustic trauma and ototoxic drugs. The balance between A1 and A2A receptors is conceived as critical for cochlear response to oxidative stress, which is an underlying mechanism of the most common inner ear pathologies (e.g. noise-induced and age-related hearing loss, drug ototoxicity). Enzymes involved in adenosine metabolism, adenosine kinase and adenosine deaminase, are also emerging as attractive targets for controlling oxidative stress in the cochlea. Other possible targets include ectonucleotidases that generate adenosine from extracellular ATP, and nucleoside transporters, which regulate adenosine concentrations on both sides of the plasma membrane. Developments of selective adenosine receptor agonists and antagonists that can cross the blood-cochlea barrier are bolstering efforts to develop therapeutic interventions aimed at ameliorating cochlear injury. Manipulations of the adenosine signalling system thus hold significant promise in the therapeutic management of oxidative stress in the cochlea.
PMCID: PMC2769008  PMID: 20190966
Adenosine; adenosine receptors; cochlea; hearing; deafness; oxidative stress; noise; ototoxicity.
2.  Modulatory effect of adenosine receptors on the ascending and descending neural reflex responses of rat ileum 
BMC Neuroscience  2002;3:21.
Adenosine is known to act as a neuromodulator by suppressing synaptic transmission in the central and peripheral nervous system. Both the release of adenosine within the small intestine and the presence of adenosine receptors on enteric neurons have been demonstrated. The aim of the present study was to characterize a possible involvement of adenosine receptors in the modulation of the myenteric reflex. The experiments were carried out on ileum segments 10 cm in length incubated in an single chambered organ bath, and the reflex response was initiated by electrical stimulation (ES).
ES caused an ascending contraction and a descending relaxation followed by a contraction. All motility responses to ES were completely blocked by tetrodotoxin, indicating that they are mediated by neural mechanisms. Atropine blocked the contractile effects, whereas the descending relaxation was significantly increased. The A1 receptor agonist N6-cyclopentyladenosine increased the ascending contraction, whereas the ascending contraction was reduced by the A1 receptor antagonist 8-cyclopentyl-1,3-dipropylxanthine. Activation of the A1 receptor further reduced the descending relaxation and the latency of the peristaltic reflex. The A2B receptor antagonist alloxazine increased ascending contraction, whereas descending relaxation remained unchanged. For A2A and A3 receptors, we found contradictory effects of the agonists and antagonists, thus there is no clear physiological role for these receptors at this time.
This study suggests that the myenteric ascending and descending reflex response of the rat small intestine is modulated by release of endogenous adenosine via A1 receptors.
PMCID: PMC139982  PMID: 12495441
small intestine; myenteric reflex; ascending contraction; descending relaxation; adenosine receptors
3.  An Essential Role for Adenosine Signaling in Alcohol Abuse 
Current drug abuse reviews  2010;3(3):163-174.
In the central nervous system (CNS), adenosine plays an important role in regulating neuronal activity and modulates signaling by other neurotransmitters, including GABA, glutamate, and dopamine. Adenosine suppresses neurotransmitter release, reduces neuronal excitability, and regulates ion channel function through activation of four classes of G protein-coupled receptors, A1, A2A, A2B, and A3. Central adenosine levels are largely controlled by nucleoside transporters, which regulate adenosine levels across the plasma membrane. Adenosine has been shown to modulate cortical glutamate signaling and ventral-tegmental dopaminergic signaling, which are involved in several aspects of alcohol use disorders. Acute ethanol elevates extracellular adenosine levels by selectively inhibiting the type 1 equilibrative nucleoside transporter, ENT1. Raised adenosine levels mediate the ataxic and sedative/hypnotic effects of ethanol through activation of A1 receptors in the cerebellum, striatum, and cerebral cortex. Recently, we have shown that pharmacological inhibition or genetic deletion of ENT1 reduces the expression of excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2), the primary regulator of extracellular glutamate, in astrocytes. These lines of evidence support a central role for adenosine-mediated glutamate signaling and the involvement of astrocytes in regulating ethanol intoxication and preference. In this paper, we discuss recent findings on the implication of adenosine signaling in alcohol use disorders.
PMCID: PMC3922619  PMID: 21054262
Adenosine; Alcoholism; Signaling; Ataxia; Glutamate; Neuron-Glial Interaction; Pharmacology; Genetics
4.  Effect of Diabetes/Hyperglycemia on the Rat Retinal Adenosinergic System 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67499.
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy (DR) are characterized by alterations similar to neurodegenerative and inflammatory conditions such as increased neural apoptosis, microglial cell activation and amplified production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Adenosine regulates several physiological functions by stimulating four subtypes of receptors, A1AR, A2AAR, A2BAR, and A3AR. Although the adenosinergic signaling system is affected by diabetes in several tissues, it is unknown whether diabetic conditions in the retina can also affect it. Adenosine delivers potent suppressive effects on virtually all cells of the immune system, but its potential role in the context of DR has yet to be studied in full. In this study, we used primary mixed cultures of rat retinal cells exposed to high glucose conditions, to mimic hyperglycemia, and a streptozotocin rat model of type 1 diabetes to determine the effect diabetes/hyperglycemia have on the expression and protein levels of adenosine receptors and of the enzymes adenosine deaminase and adenosine kinase. We found elevated mRNA and protein levels of A1AR and A2AAR, in retinal cell cultures under high glucose conditions and a transient increase in the levels of the same receptors in diabetic retinas. Adenosine deaminase and adenosine kinase expression and protein levels showed a significant decrease in diabetic retinas 30 days after diabetes induction. An enzymatic assay performed in retinal cell cultures revealed a marked decrease in the activity of adenosine deaminase under high glucose conditions. We also found an increase in extracellular adenosine levels accompanied by a decrease in intracellular levels when retinal cells were subjected to high glucose conditions. In conclusion, this study shows that several components of the retinal adenosinergic system are affected by diabetes and high glucose conditions, and the modulation observed may uncover a possible mechanism for the alleviation of the inflammatory and excitotoxic conditions observed in diabetic retinas.
PMCID: PMC3696088  PMID: 23840723
5.  Adenosine and Stroke: Maximizing the Therapeutic Potential of Adenosine as a Prophylactic and Acute Neuroprotectant 
Current Neuropharmacology  2009;7(3):217-227.
Stroke is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Despite intensive research into the development of treatments that lessen the severity of cerebrovascular injury, no major therapies exist. Though the potential use of adenosine as a neuroprotective agent in the context of stroke has long been realized, there are currently no adenosine-based therapies for the treatment of cerebral ischemia and reperfusion. One of the major obstacles to developing adenosine-based therapies for the treatment of stroke is the prevalence of functional adenosine receptors outside the central nervous system. The activities of peripheral immune and vascular endothelial cells are particularly vulnerable to modulation via adenosine receptors. Many of the pathophysiological processes in stroke are a direct result of peripheral immune infiltration into the brain. Ischemic preconditioning, which can be induced by a number of stimuli, has emerged as a promising area of focus in the development of stroke therapeutics. Reprogramming of the brain and immune responses to adenosine signaling may be an underlying principle of tolerance to cerebral ischemia. Insight into the role of adenosine in various preconditioning paradigms may lead to new uses for adenosine as both an acute and prophylactic neuroprotectant.
PMCID: PMC2769005  PMID: 20190963
Adenosine; adenosine receptors; cerebral ischemia; neuroprotection; preconditioning; stroke; treatment.
6.  Co-localization and functional cross-talk between A1 and P2Y1 purine receptors in rat hippocampus 
Adenosine and ATP, via their specific P1 and P2 receptors, modulate a wide variety of cellular and tissue functions, playing a neuroprotective or neurodegenerative role in brain damage conditions. Although, in general, adenosine inhibits excitability and ATP functions as an excitatory transmitter in the central nervous system, recent data suggest the existence of a heterodimerization and a functional interaction between P1 and P2 receptors in the brain. In particular, interactions of adenosine A1 and P2Y1 receptors may play important roles in the purinergic signalling cascade. In the present work, we investigated the subcellular localization/co-localization of the receptors and their functional cross-talk at the membrane level in Wistar rat hippocampus. This is a particularly vulnerable brain area, which is sensitive to adenosine- and ATP-mediated control of glutamatergic transmission. The postembedding immunogold electron microscopy technique showed that the two receptors are co-localized at the synaptic membranes and surrounding astroglial membranes of glutamatergic synapses. To investigate the functional cross-talk between the two types of purinergic receptors, we evaluated the reciprocal effects of their activation on their G protein coupling. P2Y1 receptor stimulation impaired the potency of A1 receptor coupling to G protein, whereas the stimulation of A1 receptors increased the functional responsiveness of P2Y1 receptors. The results demonstrated an A1–P2Y1 receptor co-localization at glutamatergic synapses and surrounding astrocytes and a functional interaction between these receptors in hippocampus, suggesting ATP and adenosine can interact in purine-mediated signalling. This may be particularly important during pathological conditions, when large amounts of these mediators are released.
PMCID: PMC2121138  PMID: 17672857
adenosine; ATP; brain damage; electron microscopy; G protein coupled receptors; immunocytochemistry
7.  The Role of Extracellular Adenosine in Chemical Neurotransmission in the Hippocampus and Basal Ganglia: Pharmacological and Clinical Aspects 
Now there is general agreement that the purine nucleoside adenosine is an important neuromodulator in the central nervous system, playing a crucial role in neuronal excitability and synaptic/non-synaptic transmission in the hippocampus and basal ganglia. Adenosine is derived from the breakdown of extra- or intracellular ATP and is released upon a variety of physiological and pathological stimuli from neuronal and non-neuronal sources, i.e. from glial cells and exerts effects diffusing far away from release sites. The resultant elevation of adenosine levels in the extracellular space reaches micromolar level, and leads to the activation A1, A2A, A2B and A3 receptors, localized to pre- and postsynaptic as well as extrasynaptic sites. Activation of presynaptic A1 receptors inhibits the release of the majority of transmitters including glutamate, acetylcholine, noradrenaline, 5-HT and dopamine, whilst the stimulation of A2A receptors facilitates the release of glutamate and acetylcholine and inhibits the release of GABA. These actions underlie modulation of neuronal excitability, synaptic plasticity and coordination of neural networks and provide intriguing target sites for pharmacological intervention in ischemia and Parkinson’s disease. However, despite that adenosine is also released during ischemia, A1 adenosine receptors do not participate in the modulation of excitotoxic glutamate release, which is nonsynaptic and is due to the reverse operation of transporters. Instead, extrasynaptic A1 receptors might be responsible for the neuroprotection afforded by A1 receptor activation.
PMCID: PMC3179034  PMID: 21401497
Adenosine; A1 receptor; A2A receptor; ATP; hippocampus; striatum.
8.  The A3 Adenosine Receptor Mediates Cell Spreading, Reorganization of Actin Cytoskeleton, and Distribution of Bcl-xL: Studies in Human Astroglioma Cells 
The pathophysiological role of the adenosine A3 receptor in the central nervous system is largely unknown. We have investigated the effects of the selective A3 receptor agonist 2-chloro-N6-(3-iodobenzyl)-adenosine, Cl-IB-MECA, in cells of the astroglial lineage (human astrocytoma ADF cells). A marked reorganization of the cytoskeleton, with appearance of stress fibers and numerous cell protrusions, was found following exposure of cells to low (nM) concentrations of Cl-IB-MECA. These “trophic” effects were accompanied by induction of the expression of Rho, a small GTP-binding protein, which was virtually absent in control cells, and by changes of the intracellular distribution of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-xL, that, in agonist-exposed cells, became specifically associated to cell protrusions. This is the first demonstration that the intracellular organization of Bcl-xL can be modulated by the activation of a G-protein-coupled membrane receptor, such as the A3 adenosine receptor. Moreover, modulation of the astrocytic cytoskeleton by adenosine may have intriguing implications in both nervous system development and in the response of the brain to trauma and ischemia.
PMCID: PMC4248308  PMID: 9425266
9.  Regulation of leukocyte migration across endothelial barriers by ecto-5’-nucleotidase-generated adenosine 
CD73-deficient mice are valuable for evaluating the ability of CD73-generated adenosine to modulate adenosine receptor-mediated responses. Here we report the role of CD73 in regulating lymphocyte migration across two distinct barriers. In the first case, CD73-generated adenosine restricts the migration of lymphocytes across high endothelial venules (HEV) into draining lymph nodes after an inflammatory stimulus, apparently by triggering A2B receptors on HEV. Secondly, CD73 promotes the migration of pathogenic T cells into the central nervous system during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Experiments are in progress to determine whether this effect is also adenosine receptor-mediated and to identify the relevant adenosine receptor.
PMCID: PMC2776682  PMID: 18600537
CD73; ecto-5’-nucleotidase; leukocyte migration; experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
10.  Extracellular adenosine signaling induces CX3CL1 expression in the brain to promote experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis 
Multiple sclerosis and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) are debilitating neuroinflammatory diseases mediated by lymphocyte entry into the central nervous system (CNS). While it is not known what triggers lymphocyte entry into the CNS during neuroinflammation, blockade of lymphocyte migration has been shown to be effective in controlling neuroinflammatory diseases. Since we have previously shown that extracellular adenosine is a key mediator of lymphocyte migration into the CNS during EAE progression, we wanted to determine which factors are regulated by adenosine to modulate EAE development.
We performed a genetic analysis of wild type and CD73−/− (that are unable to produce extracellular adenosine and are protected from EAE development) to identify factors that are both important for EAE development and controlled by extracellular adenosine signaling.
We show that extracellular adenosine triggered lymphocyte migration into the CNS by inducing the expression of the specialized chemokine/adhesion molecule CX3CL1 at the choroid plexus. In wild type mice, CX3CL1 is upregulated in the brain on Day 10 post EAE induction, which corresponds with initial CNS lymphocyte infiltration and the acute stage of EAE. Conversely, mice that cannot synthesize extracellular adenosine (CD73−/− mice) do not upregulate CX3CL1 in the brain following EAE induction and are protected from EAE development and its associated lymphocyte infiltration. Additionally, blockade of the A2A adenosine receptor following EAE induction prevents disease development and the induction of brain CX3CL1 expression. The CX3CL1 induced during EAE is found on the choroid plexus, which is the barrier between the blood and cerebral spinal fluid in the brain and is a prime entry point into the CNS for immune cells. Furthermore, CX3CL1 expression can be induced in the brains of mice and in choroid plexus cell line following A2A adenosine receptor agonist administration. Most importantly, we show that CX3CL1 blockade protects against EAE development and inhibits lymphocyte entry into the CNS.
We conclude that extracellular adenosine is an endogenous modulator of neuroinflammation during EAE that induces CX3CL1 at the choroid plexus to trigger lymphocyte entry into the brain.
PMCID: PMC3458968  PMID: 22883932
Extracellular adenosine; CD73; A2A adenosine receptor; CX3CL1 (fractalkine); Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; Multiple sclerosis; Neuroinflammation; Choroid plexus
Neurochemistry international  2013;63(1):42-46.
The molecular interaction between adenosine A2A and dopamine D2 receptors (A2ARs and D2Rs, respectively) within an oligomeric complex has been postulated to play a pivotal role in the adenosine-dopamine interplay in the central nervous system, in both normal and pathological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s disease). While the effects of A2AR challenge on D2R functioning have been largely studied, the reverse condition is still unexplored, a fact that might have impact in therapeutics. Here, we aimed to examine in a real-time mode the D2R-mediated allosteric modulation of A2AR binding when an A2AR/D2R oligomer is established. Thus, we synthesized fluorescent A2AR agonists and evaluated, by means of a flow cytometry homogeneous no-wash assay and a real-time fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based approach, the effects on A2AR binding of distinct antiparkinsonian drugs in current clinical use (i.e. pramipexole, rotigotine and apomorphine). Our results provided evidence for the existence of a differential D2R-mediated negative allosteric modulation on A2AR agonist binding that was oligomer-formation dependent, and with apomorphine being the best antiparkinsonian drug attenuating A2AR agonist binding. Overall, the here-developed methods were found valid to prospect the ability of drugs acting on D2Rs to modulate A2AR binding, thus featuring as possible helpful tools for the preliminary selection of D2R-like candidate drugs in the management of Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3705641  PMID: 23619397
A2AR; D2R; Parkinson’s disease; receptor-receptor allosterism; antiparkinsonian drugs
12.  The Role of Adenosine in Alzheimer’s Disease 
Current Neuropharmacology  2009;7(3):207-216.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system manifested by cognitive and memory deterioration, a variety of neuropsychiatric symptoms, behavioral disturbances, and progressive impairment of daily life activities. Current pharmacotherapies are restricted to symptomatic interventions but do not prevent progressive neuronal degeneration. Therefore, new therapeutic strategies are needed to intervene with these progressive pathological processes. In the past several years adenosine, a ubiquitously released purine ribonucleoside, has become important for its neuromodulating capability and its emerging positive experimental effects in neurodegenerative diseases. Recent research suggests that adenosine receptors play important roles in the modulation of cognitive function. The present paper attempts to review published reports and data from different studies showing the evidence of a relationship between adenosinergic function and AD-related cognitive deficits. Epidemiological studies have found an association between coffee (a nonselective adenosine receptor antagonist) consumption and improved cognitive function in AD patients and in the elderly. Long-term administration of caffeine in transgenic animal models showed a reduced amyloid burden in brain with better cognitive performance. Antagonists of adenosine A2A receptors mimic these beneficial effects of caffeine on cognitive function. Neuronal cell cultures with amyloid beta in the presence of an A2A receptor antagonist completely prevented amyloid beta-induced neurotoxicity. These findings suggest that the adenosinergic system constitutes a new therapeutic target for AD, and caffeine and A2A receptor antagonists may have promise to manage cognitive dysfunction in AD.
PMCID: PMC2769004  PMID: 20190962
Adenosine receptor; Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid beta; caffeine; cognition; neuromodulation.
13.  ATP P2X3 receptors and neuronal sensitization 
Increasing evidence indicates the importance of extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the modulation of neuronal function. In particular, fine control of ATP release and the selective and discrete ATP receptor operation are crucial elements of the crosstalk between neuronal and non-neuronal cells in the peripheral and central nervous systems. In peripheral neurons, ATP signaling gives an important contribution to neuronal sensitization, especially that involved in neuropathic pain. Among other subtypes, P2X3 receptors expressed on sensory neurons are sensitive even to nanomolar concentrations of extracellular ATP, and therefore are important transducers of pain stimuli. P2X3 receptor function is highly sensitive to soluble factors like neuropeptides and neurotrophins, and is controlled by transduction mechanisms, protein-protein interactions and discrete membrane compartmentalization. More recent findings have demonstrated that P2X3 receptors interact with the synaptic scaffold protein calcium/calmodulin-dependent serine protein kinase (CASK) in a state dependent fashion, indicating that CASK plays a crucial role in the modulation of P2X3 receptor stability and efficiency. Activation of P2X3 receptors within CASK/P2X3 complex has important consequences for neuronal plasticity and possibly for the release of neuromodulators and neurotransmitters. Better understanding of the interactome machinery of P2X3 receptors and their integration with other receptors and channels on neuronal surface membranes, is proposed to be essential to unveil the process of neuronal sensitization and related, abnormal pain signaling.
PMCID: PMC3849726  PMID: 24363643
trigeminal neurons; pain; receptor plasticity; purinergic signaling; migraine
14.  Using caffeine and other adenosine receptor antagonists and agonists as therapeutic tools against neurodegenerative diseases: A review 
Life sciences  2014;101(0):1-9.
Caffeine is the most consumed pychostimulant in the world, and it is known to affect basic and fundamental human processes such as sleep, arousal, cognition and learning and memory. It works as a nonselective blocker of adenosine receptors (A1, A2a, A2b and A3) and has been related to the regulation of heart rate, the contraction/relaxation of cardiac and smooth muscles, and the neural signaling in the central nervous system (CNS). Since the late 1990s, studies using adenosine receptor antagonists, such as Caffeine, to block the A1 and A2a adenosine receptor subtypes have shown to reduce the physical, cellular and molecular damages caused by a spinal cord injury (SCI) or a stroke (cerebral infarction) and by other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Interestingly, other studies using adenosine receptor agonists have also shown to provide a neuroprotective effect on various models of neurodegenerative diseases through the reduction of excitatory neurotransmitter release, apoptosis and inflammatory responses, among others. The seemingly paradoxical use of both adenosine receptor agonists and antagonists as neuroprotective agents has been attributed to differences in dosage levels, drug delivery method, extracellular concentration of excitatory neurotransmitters and stage of disease progression. We discuss and compare recent findings using both antagonists and agonists of adenosine receptors in animal models and patients that have suffered spinal cord injuries, brain strokes, and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Additionally, we propose alternative interpretations on the seemingly paradoxical use of these drugs as potential pharmacological tools to treat these various types of neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC4115368  PMID: 24530739
Adenosine receptors; Caffeine; Stroke; Spinal cord injury; Parkinson's disease; Alzheimer's disease
15.  Adenosine and Glutamate Signaling in Neuron-Glial interactions: Implications in Alcoholism and Sleep Disorders 
Recent studies have demonstrated that the function of glia is not restricted to the support of neuronal function. Especially, astrocytes are essential for neuronal activity in the brain. Astrocytes actively participate in synapse formation and brain information processing by releasing or uptaking gliotransmitters such as glutamate, D-serine, adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) and adenosine. In the central nervous system, adenosine plays an important role in regulating neuronal activity as well as in controlling other neurotransmitter systems such as GABA, glutamate and dopamine. Ethanol increases extracellular adenosine levels, which regulates the ataxic and hypnotic/sedative (somnogenic) effects of ethanol. Adenosine signaling is also involved in the homeostasis of major inhibitory-excitatory neurotransmission (i.e. GABA or glutamate) through neuron-glial interactions, which regulates the effect of ethanol and sleep. Adenosine transporters or astrocytic SNARE-mediated transmitter release regulates extracellular or synaptic adenosine levels. Adenosine then exerts its function through several adenosine receptors and regulates glutamate levels in the brain. This review presents novel findings on how neuron-glial interactions, particularly adenosinergic signaling and glutamate uptake activity involving glutamate transporter 1 (GLT1), are implicated in alcoholism and sleep disorders.
PMCID: PMC3349794  PMID: 22309182
Adenosine; Glutamate; Alcoholism; Sleep; Signaling; Pharmacology
16.  Implication of the Purinergic System in Alcohol Use Disorders 
In the central nervous system, adenosine and ATP play an important role in regulating neuronal activity as well as controlling other neurotransmitter systems such as GABA, glutamate, and dopamine. Ethanol increases extracellular adenosine levels that regulate the ataxic and hypnotic/sedative effects of ethanol. Interestingly, ethanol is known to increase adenosine levels by inhibiting an ethanol-sensitive adenosine transporter, ENT1 (equilibrative nucleoside transporter type 1). Ethanol is also known to inhibit ATP-specific P2X receptors, which might result in such similar effects as those caused by an increase in adenosine. Adenosine and ATP exert their functions through P1 (metabotropic) and P2 (P2X-ionotropic and P2Y-metabotropic) receptors, respectively. Purinergic signaling in cortex-striatum-VTA has been implicated in regulating cortical glutamate signaling as well as VTA dopaminergic signaling, which regulates the motivational effect of ethanol. Moreover, several nucleoside transporters and receptors have been identified in astrocytes, which regulate not only adenosine-ATP neurotransmission, but also homeostasis of major inhibitory-excitatory neurotransmission (i.e. GABA or glutamate) through neuron-glial interactions. This review will present novel findings on the implications of adenosine and ATP neurotransmission in alcohol use disorders.
PMCID: PMC3076125  PMID: 21223299
Adenosine; ATP; Alcoholism; Purinergic; Signaling; Neurotransmission
17.  Adenosine A2A receptors in Parkinson’s disease treatment 
Purinergic Signalling  2008;4(4):305-312.
Latest results on the action of adenosine A2A receptor antagonists indicate their potential therapeutic usefulness in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Basal ganglia possess high levels of adenosine A2A receptors, mainly on the external surfaces of neurons located at the indirect tracts between the striatum, globus pallidus, and substantia nigra. Experiments with animal models of Parkinson’s disease indicate that adenosine A2A receptors are strongly involved in the regulation of the central nervous system. Co-localization of adenosine A2A and dopaminergic D2 receptors in striatum creates a milieu for antagonistic interaction between adenosine and dopamine. The experimental data prove that the best improvement of mobility in patients with Parkinson’s disease could be achieved with simultaneous activation of dopaminergic D2 receptors and inhibition of adenosine A2A receptors. In animal models of Parkinson’s disease, the use of selective antagonists of adenosine A2A receptors, such as istradefylline, led to the reversibility of movement dysfunction. These compounds might improve mobility during both monotherapy and co-administration with L-DOPA and dopamine receptor agonists. The use of adenosine A2A receptor antagonists in combination therapy enables the reduction of the L-DOPA doses, as well as a reduction of side effects. In combination therapy, the adenosine A2A receptor antagonists might be used in both moderate and advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease. The long-lasting administration of adenosine A2A receptor antagonists does not decrease the patient response and does not cause side effects typical of L-DOPA therapy. It was demonstrated in various animal models that inhibition of adenosine A2A receptors not only decreases the movement disturbance, but also reveals a neuroprotective activity, which might impede or stop the progression of the disease. Recently, clinical trials were completed on the use of istradefylline (KW-6002), an inhibitor of adenosine A2A receptors, as an anti-Parkinson drug.
PMCID: PMC2583202  PMID: 18438720
Parkinson’s disease; Adenosine; Adenosine receptors; Dopamine receptors; Neuroprotection
18.  Ethanol Blocks Adenosine Uptake via Inhibiting the Nucleoside Transport System in Bronchial Epithelial Cells 
Adenosine uptake into cells by nucleoside transporters plays a significant role in governing extracellular adenosine concentration. Extracellular adenosine is an important signaling molecule that modulates many cellular functions via four G-protein-coupled receptor subtypes (A1, A2A, A2B, and A3). Previously, we demonstrated that adenosine is critical in maintaining airway homeostasis and airway repair and that airway host defenses are impaired by alcohol. Taken together, we hypothesized that ethanol impairs adenosine uptake via the nucleoside transport system. To examine ethanol-induced alteration on adenosine transport, we used a human bronchial epithelial cell line (BEAS-2B). Cells were preincubated for 10 min in the presence and absence of varying concentrations of ethanol (EtOH). In addition, some cells were pretreated with S - (4-Nitrobenzyl)-6-thioinosine (100 μM: NBT), a potent adenosine uptake inhibitor. Uptake was then determined by addition of [3H]-adenosine at various time intervals. Increasing EtOH concentrations resulted in increasing inhibition of adenosine uptake when measured at 1 min. Cells pretreated with NBT effectively blocked adenosine uptake. In addition, short-term EtOH revealed increased extracellular adenosine concentration. Conversely, adenosine transport became desensitized in cells exposed to EtOH (100 mM) for 24 hr. To determine the mechanism of EtOH-induced desensitization of adenosine transport, cAMP activity was assessed in response to EtOH. Short-term EtOH exposure (10 min) had little or no effect on adenosine-mediated cAMP activation, whereas long-term EtOH exposure (24 hr) blocked adenosine-mediated cAMP activation. Western blot analysis of lysates from unstimulated BEAS-2B cells detected a single 55 kDa band indicating the presence of hENT1 and hENT2, respectively. Real-time RT-PCR of RNA from BEAS-2B revealed transcriptional expression of ENT1 and ENT2. Collectively, these data reveal that acute exposure of cells to EtOH inhibits adenosine uptake via a nucleoside transporter, and chronic exposure of cells to EtOH desensitizes the adenosine transporter to these inhibitory effects of ethanol. Furthermore, our data suggest that inhibition of adenosine uptake by EtOH leads to an increased extracellular adenosine accumulation, influencing the effect of adenosine at the epithelial cell surface, which may alter airway homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC2940831  PMID: 19298329
ethanol; adenosine; airway diseases; nucleoside transporter
Journal of neurochemistry  2012;123(3):373-384.
In the central nervous system (CNS), an antagonistic interaction has been shown between adenosine A2A and dopamine D2 receptors (A2ARs and D2Rs) that may be relevant both in normal and pathological conditions (i.e. Parkinson’s disease). Thus, the molecular determinants mediating this receptor-receptor interaction have recently been explored, since the fine tuning of this target (namely the A2AR/D2R oligomer) could possibly improve the treatment of certain CNS diseases. Here, we used a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based approach to examine the allosteric modulation of the D2R within the A2AR/D2R oligomer and the dependence of this receptor-receptor interaction on two regions rich in positive charges on intracellular loop 3 (IL3) of the D2R. Interestingly, we observed a negative allosteric effect of the D2R agonist quinpirole on A2AR ligand binding and activation. However, these allosteric effects were abolished upon mutation of specific arginine residues (217–222 and 267–269) on IL3 of the D2R, thus demonstrating a major role of these positively-charged residues in mediating the observed receptor-receptor interaction. Overall, these results provide structural insights to better understand the functioning of the A2AR/D2R oligomer in living cells.
PMCID: PMC3480334  PMID: 22924752
A2AR; D2R; FRET; oligomerization; allosterism; fluorescent agonist
20.  The neurobiology and evolution of cannabinoid signalling. 
The plant Cannabis sativa has been used by humans for thousands of years because of its psychoactivity. The major psychoactive ingredient of cannabis is Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol, which exerts effects in the brain by binding to a G-protein-coupled receptor known as the CB1 cannabinoid receptor. The discovery of this receptor indicated that endogenous cannabinoids may occur in the brain, which act as physiological ligands for CB1. Two putative endocannabinoid ligands, arachidonylethanolamide ('anandamide') and 2-arachidonylglycerol, have been identified, giving rise to the concept of a cannabinoid signalling system. Little is known about how or where these compounds are synthesized in the brain and how this relates to CB1 expression. However, detailed neuroanatomical and electrophysiological analysis of mammalian nervous systems has revealed that the CB1 receptor is targeted to the presynaptic terminals of neurons where it acts to inhibit release of 'classical' neurotransmitters. Moreover, an enzyme that inactivates endocannabinoids, fatty acid amide hydrolase, appears to be preferentially targeted to the somatodendritic compartment of neurons that are postsynaptic to CB1-expressing axon terminals. Based on these findings, we present here a model of cannabinoid signalling in which anandamide is synthesized by postsynaptic cells and acts as a retrograde messenger molecule to modulate neurotransmitter release from presynaptic terminals. Using this model as a framework, we discuss the role of cannabinoid signalling in different regions of the nervous system in relation to the characteristic physiological actions of cannabinoids in mammals, which include effects on movement, memory, pain and smooth muscle contractility. The discovery of the cannabinoid signalling system in mammals has prompted investigation of the occurrence of this pathway in non-mammalian animals. Here we review the evidence for the existence of cannabinoid receptors in non-mammalian vertebrates and invertebrates and discuss the evolution of the cannabinoid signalling system. Genes encoding orthologues of the mammalian CB1 receptor have been identified in a fish, an amphibian and a bird, indicating that CB1 receptors may occur throughout the vertebrates. Pharmacological actions of cannabinoids and specific binding sites for cannabinoids have been reported in several invertebrate species, but the molecular basis for these effects is not known. Importantly, however, the genomes of the protostomian invertebrates Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans do not contain CB1 orthologues, indicating that CB1-like cannabinoid receptors may have evolved after the divergence of deuterostomes (e.g. vertebrates and echinoderms) and protostomes. Phylogenetic analysis of the relationship of vertebrate CB1 receptors with other G-protein-coupled receptors reveals that the paralogues that appear to share the most recent common evolutionary origin with CB1 are lysophospholipid receptors, melanocortin receptors and adenosine receptors. Interestingly, as with CB1, each of these receptor types does not appear to have Drosophila orthologues, indicating that this group of receptors may not occur in protostomian invertebrates. We conclude that the cannabinoid signalling system may be quite restricted in its phylogenetic distribution, probably occurring only in the deuterostomian clade of the animal kingdom and possibly only in vertebrates.
PMCID: PMC1088434  PMID: 11316486
21.  Adenosine-Mediated Enteric Neuromuscular Function Is Affected during Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Infection of Rat Enteric Nervous System 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72648.
Adenosine plays an important role in regulating intestinal motility and inflammatory processes. Previous studies in rodent models have demonstrated that adenosine metabolism and signalling are altered during chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases. However, the involvement of the adenosinergic system in the pathophysiology of gut dysmotility associated to a primary neurodysfunction is still unclear. Recently, we showed that the neurotropic Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1), orally inoculated to rodents, infects the rat enteric nervous system (ENS) and affects gut motor function without signs of systemic infection. In this study we examined whether changes in purinergic metabolism and signaling occur during permanent HSV-1 infection of rat ENS. Using isolated organ bath assays, we found that contraction mediated by adenosine engagement of A1 or A2A receptors was impaired at 1 and 6 weeks post-viral administration. Immunofluorescence studies revealed that viral infection of ENS led to a marked redistribution of adenosine receptors: A1 and A2B receptors were confined to the muscle layers whereas A2A and A3 receptors were expressed mainly in the myenteric plexus. Viral-induced ENS neurodysfunction influenced adenosine metabolism by increasing adenosine deaminase and CD73 levels in longitudinal muscle-myenteric plexus with no sign of frank inflammation. This study provides the first evidence for involvement of the adenosinergic system during HSV-1 infection of the ENS. As such, this may represent a valid therapeutic target for modulating gut contractility associated to a primary neurodysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3754913  PMID: 24015268
22.  Selective adenosine A2A receptor agonists and antagonists protect against spinal cord injury through peripheral and central effects 
Permanent functional deficits following spinal cord injury (SCI) arise both from mechanical injury and from secondary tissue reactions involving inflammation. Enhanced release of adenosine and glutamate soon after SCI represents a component in the sequelae that may be responsible for resulting functional deficits. The role of adenosine A2A receptor in central ischemia/trauma is still to be elucidated. In our previous studies we have demonstrated that the adenosine A2A receptor-selective agonist CGS21680, systemically administered after SCI, protects from tissue damage, locomotor dysfunction and different inflammatory readouts. In this work we studied the effect of the adenosine A2A receptor antagonist SCH58261, systemically administered after SCI, on the same parameters. We investigated the hypothesis that the main action mechanism of agonists and antagonists is at peripheral or central sites.
Spinal trauma was induced by extradural compression of SC exposed via a four-level T5-T8 laminectomy in mouse. Three drug-dosing protocols were utilized: a short-term systemic administration by intraperitoneal injection, a chronic administration via osmotic minipump, and direct injection into the spinal cord.
SCH58261, systemically administered (0.01 mg/kg intraperitoneal. 1, 6 and 10 hours after SCI), reduced demyelination and levels of TNF-α, Fas-L, PAR, Bax expression and activation of JNK mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) 24 hours after SCI. Chronic SCH58261 administration, by mini-osmotic pump delivery for 10 days, improved the neurological deficit up to 10 days after SCI. Adenosine A2A receptors are physiologically expressed in the spinal cord by astrocytes, microglia and oligodendrocytes. Soon after SCI (24 hours), these receptors showed enhanced expression in neurons. Both the A2A agonist and antagonist, administered intraperitoneally, reduced expression of the A2A receptor, ruling out the possibility that the neuroprotective effects of the A2A agonist are due to A2A receptor desensitization. When the A2A antagonist and agonist were centrally injected into injured SC, only SCH58261 appeared neuroprotective, while CGS21680 was ineffective.
Our results indicate that the A2A antagonist protects against SCI by acting on centrally located A2A receptors. It is likely that blockade of A2A receptors reduces excitotoxicity. In contrast, neuroprotection afforded by the A2A agonist may be primarily due to peripheral effects.
PMCID: PMC3096915  PMID: 21486435
23.  Pannexin1 Stabilizes Synaptic Plasticity and Is Needed for Learning 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51767.
Pannexin 1 (Panx1) represents a class of vertebrate membrane channels, bearing significant sequence homology with the invertebrate gap junction proteins, the innexins and more distant similarities in the membrane topologies and pharmacological sensitivities with gap junction proteins of the connexin family. In the nervous system, cooperation among pannexin channels, adenosine receptors, and KATP channels modulating neuronal excitability via ATP and adenosine has been recognized, but little is known about the significance in vivo. However, the localization of Panx1 at postsynaptic sites in hippocampal neurons and astrocytes in close proximity together with the fundamental role of ATP and adenosine for CNS metabolism and cell signaling underscore the potential relevance of this channel to synaptic plasticity and higher brain functions. Here, we report increased excitability and potently enhanced early and persistent LTP responses in the CA1 region of acute slice preparations from adult Panx1−/− mice. Adenosine application and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR)-blocking normalized this phenotype, suggesting that absence of Panx1 causes chronic extracellular ATP/adenosine depletion, thus facilitating postsynaptic NMDAR activation. Compensatory transcriptional up-regulation of metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 (grm4) accompanies these adaptive changes. The physiological modification, promoted by loss of Panx1, led to distinct behavioral alterations, enhancing anxiety and impairing object recognition and spatial learning in Panx1−/− mice. We conclude that ATP release through Panx1 channels plays a critical role in maintaining synaptic strength and plasticity in CA1 neurons of the adult hippocampus. This result provides the rationale for in-depth analysis of Panx1 function and adenosine based therapies in CNS disorders.
PMCID: PMC3527502  PMID: 23284764
24.  Central nervous system regulation of mammalian hibernation: implications for metabolic suppression and ischemia tolerance 
Journal of neurochemistry  2007;102(6):1713-1726.
Torpor during hibernation defines the nadir of mammalian metabolism where whole animal rates of metabolism are decreased to as low as 2% of basal metabolic rate. This capacity to decrease profoundly the metabolic demand of organs and tissues has the potential to translate into novel therapies for the treatment of ischemia associated with stroke, cardiac arrest or trauma where delivery of oxygen and nutrients fails to meet demand. If metabolic demand could be arrested in a regulated way, cell and tissue injury could be attenuated. Metabolic suppression achieved during hibernation is regulated, in part, by the central nervous system through indirect and possibly direct means. In this study, we review recent evidence for mechanisms of central nervous system control of torpor in hibernating rodents including evidence of a permissive, hibernation protein complex, a role for A1 adenosine receptors, mu opiate receptors, glutamate and thyrotropin-releasing hormone. Central sites for regulation of torpor include the hippocampus, hypothalamus and nuclei of the autonomic nervous system. In addition, we discuss evidence that hibernation phenotypes can be translated to non-hibernating species by H2S and 3-iodothyronamine with the caveat that the hypothermia, bradycardia, and metabolic suppression induced by these compounds may or may not be identical to mechanisms employed in true hibernation.
PMCID: PMC3600610  PMID: 17555547
metabolic arrest; metabolic suppression; suspended animation
25.  Sphingosine Lysolipids in the CNS: Endogenous Cannabinoid Antagonists or a Parallel Pain Modulatory System? 
Life sciences  2013;93(0):187-193.
A significant number of patients experience chronic pain and the intractable side effects of currently prescribed pain medications. Recent evidence indicates important pain modulatory roles for two classes of G-protein-coupled receptors that are activated by endogenous lipid ligands, the endocannabinoid (eCB) and sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) receptors, which are widely expressed in both the immune and nervous systems. In the central nervous system (CNS), CB1 cannabinoid and S1P1 receptors are most abundantly expressed and exhibit overlapping anatomical distributions and similar signaling mechanisms. The eCB system has emerged as a potential target for treatment of chronic pain, but comparatively little is known about the roles of S1P in pain regulation. Both eCB and S1P systems modulate pain perception via the central and peripheral nervous systems. In most paradigms studied, the eCB system mainly inhibits pain perception. In contrast, S1P acting peripherally at S1P1 and S1P3 receptors can enhance sensitivity to various pain stimuli or elicit spontaneous pain. However, S1P acting at S1P1 receptors and possibly other targets in the CNS can attenuate sensitivity to various pain stimuli. Interestingly, other endogenous sphingolipid derivatives might play a role in central pain sensitization. Moreover, these sphingolipids can also act as CB1 cannabinoid receptor antagonists, but the physiological relevance of this interaction is unknown. Overall, both eCB and sphingolipid systems offer promising targets for the treatment of chronic pain. This review compares and contrasts the eCB and S1P systems with a focus on their roles in pain modulation, and considers possible points of interaction between these systems.
PMCID: PMC4128475  PMID: 23782998

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