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1.  Targeting the hypoxia-adenosinergic signaling pathway to improve the adoptive immunotherapy of cancer 
The recent approval by the FDA of cancer vaccines and drugs that blockade immunological negative regulators has further enhanced interest in promising approaches of the immunotherapy of cancer. However, the disappointingly short life extension has also underscored the need to better understand the mechanisms that prevent tumor rejection and survival even after the blockade of immunological negative regulators. Here, we describe the implications of the “metabolism-based” immunosuppressive mechanism, where the local tissue hypoxia-driven accumulation of extracellular adenosine triggers suppression via A2 adenosine receptors on the surface of activated immune cells. This molecular pathway is of critical importance in mechanisms of immunosuppression in inflamed and cancerous tissue microenvironments. The protection of tumors by tumor-generated extracellular adenosine and A2 adenosine receptors could be the misguided application of the normal tissue-protecting mechanism that limits excessive collateral damage to vital organs during the anti-pathogen immune response. The overview of the current state of the art regarding the immunosuppressive effects of extracellular adenosine is followed by an historical perspective of studies focused on the elucidation of the physiological negative regulators that protect tissues of vital organs from excessive collateral damage, but, as a trade-off, may also weaken the anti-pathogen effector functions and negate the attempts of anti-tumor immune cells to destroy cancerous cells.
doi:10.1007/s00109-013-1001-9
PMCID: PMC3576025  PMID: 23334369
adenosine; A2A adenosine receptor; cyclic AMP; hypoxia; inflammation; tumor; cancer immunotherapy; adoptive immunotherapy; tumor microenvironment; immunosuppression; T lymphocytes; regulatory T cells; cytokines; cytotoxicity
2.  A2B Adenosine Receptor Blockade Enhances Macrophage-Mediated Bacterial Phagocytosis and Improves Polymicrobial Sepsis Survival in Mice 
Antimicrobial treatment strategies must improve to reduce the high mortality rates in septic patients. In noninfectious models of acute inflammation, activation of A2B adenosine receptors (A2BR) in extracellular adenosine-rich microenvironments causes immunosuppression. We examined A2BR in antibacterial responses in the cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) model of sepsis. Antagonism of A2BR significantly increased survival, enhanced bacterial phagocytosis, and decreased IL-6 and MIP-2 (a CXC chemokine) levels after CLP in outbred (ICR/CD-1) mice. During the CLP-induced septic response in A2BR knockout mice, hemodynamic parameters were improved compared with wild-type mice in addition to better survival and decreased plasma IL-6 levels. A2BR deficiency resulted in a dramatic 4-log reduction in peritoneal bacteria. The mechanism of these improvements was due to enhanced macrophage phagocytic activity without augmenting neutrophil phagocytosis of bacteria. Following ex vivo LPS stimulation, septic macrophages from A2BR knockout mice had increased IL-6 and TNF-α secretion compared with wild-type mice. A therapeutic intervention with A2BR blockade was studied by using a plasma biomarker to direct therapy to those mice predicted to die. Pharmacological blockade of A2BR even 32 h after the onset of sepsis increased survival by 65% in those mice predicted to die. Thus, even the late treatment with an A2BR antagonist significantly improved survival of mice (ICR/CD-1) that were otherwise determined to die according to plasma IL-6 levels. Our findings of enhanced bacterial clearance and host survival suggest that antagonism of A2BRs offers a therapeutic target to improve macrophage function in a late treatment protocol that improves sepsis survival.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1001567
PMCID: PMC3708265  PMID: 21242513
3.  The development and immunosuppressive functions of CD4+ CD25+ FoxP3+ regulatory T cells are under influence of the adenosine-A2A adenosine receptor pathway 
The A2A adenosine receptor (A2AR)-mediated immunosuppression is firmly implicated in the life-saving down-regulation of collateral tissue damage during the anti-pathogen immune response and in highly undesirable protection of cancerous tissues during anti-tumor immune response. Therefore, depending on specific clinical situation there is a need to either weaken or strengthen the intensity of A2AR signal. While the A2AR-mediated immunosuppression was shown to be T cell autonomous in studies of effector T cells, it was not clear how A2AR stimulation affects regulatory T cells (Treg). Here we show in parallel assays that while A2AR stimulation on T cells directly inhibits their activation, there is also indirect and longer-lasting T cell inhibitory effect through modulation of Treg. A2AR stimulation expanded CD4+ CD25hi FoxP3+ cells, which also express CD39, CD73, and CTLA-4. Treg cultured with A2AR agonist showed increased expression of CTLA-4 and stronger immunosuppressive activity. There was a significant increase of Treg cell number after A2AR stimulation. The CD4+ FoxP3+ population contained those induced from CD4+ CD25− cells, but CD4+ FoxP3+ cells predominantly derived from CD4+ CD25+ natural Treg. Thus, A2AR stimulation numerically and functionally enhanced Treg-mediated immunosuppressive mechanism. These data suggest that the A2AR-mediated stimulation of lymphocytes using A2AR agonists should be considered in protocols for ex vivo expansion of Treg before the transfer to patients in different medical applications.
doi:10.3389/fimmu.2012.00190
PMCID: PMC3389649  PMID: 22783261
regulatory T cells; adenosine; immunosuppression; A2A adenosine receptor; cancer; autoimmune; transplantation
4.  In vivo T Cell Activation in Lymphoid Tissues is Inhibited in the Oxygen-Poor Microenvironment 
Activation of immune cells is under control of immunological and physiological regulatory mechanisms to ensure adequate destruction of pathogens with the minimum collateral damage to “innocent” bystander cells. The concept of physiological negative regulation of immune response has been advocated based on the finding of the critical immunoregulatory role of extracellular adenosine. Local tissue oxygen tension was proposed to function as one of such physiological regulatory mechanisms of immune responses. In the current study, we utilized in vivo marker of local tissue hypoxia pimonidazole hydrochloride (Hypoxyprobe-1) in the flowcytometric analysis of oxygen levels to which lymphocytes are exposed in vivo. The level of exposure to hypoxia in vivo was low in B cells and the levels increased in the following order: T cells < NKT cells < NK cells. The thymus was more hypoxic than the spleen and lymph nodes, suggesting the variation in the degree of oxygenation among lymphoid organs and cell types in normal mice. Based on in vitro studies, tissue hypoxia has been assumed to be suppressive to T cell activation in vivo, but there was no direct evidence demonstrating that T cells exposed to hypoxic environment in vivo are less activated. We tested whether the state of activation of T cells in vivo changes due to their exposure to hypoxic tissue microenvironments. The parallel analysis of more hypoxic and less hypoxic T cells in the same mouse revealed that the degree of T cell activation was significantly stronger in better-oxygenated T cells. These observations suggest that the extent of T cell activation in vivo is dependent on their localization and is decreased in environment with low oxygen tension.
doi:10.3389/fimmu.2011.00027
PMCID: PMC3342240  PMID: 22566817
T cell; oxygen; hypoxia; hyperoxia; Hypoxyprobe-1; cytometry; tumor
5.  The adenosinergic immuno-modulatory drugs 
Current opinion in pharmacology  2009;9(4):501-506.
Hypoxia-driven increase of extracellular adenosine in local tissue microenvironments of inflamed and cancerous tissues plays a critical role in the regulation of tissue destruction by activated immune cells. Accumulated data suggest that injection or consumption of A2A adenosine receptor (A2AR) antagonists may represent a drug treatment that diminishes adenosine-mediated immunosuppression. Since this, in turn, enhances the immune response, inhibition of adenosine-A2AR signaling may be a promising approach to enhance anti-tumor or anti-pathogen immune response. Patients with disorders characterized by excessive inflammation may be at risk to A2AR antagonists (e.g. caffeine) because of the effect to increase inflammatory damage secondary to enhanced immunity. On the other hand, enhancement of hypoxia-adenosinergic immunomodulatory pathways may be beneficial to prevent inflammatory tissue destruction.
doi:10.1016/j.coph.2009.05.005
PMCID: PMC2756083  PMID: 19539527
6.  From ‘Hellstrom Paradox–to anti-adenosinergic cancer immunotherapy 
Purinergic Signalling  2007;3(1-2):129-134.
Cancer therapy by endogenous or adoptively transferred anti-tumor T cells is considered complementary to conventional cancer treatment by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy. However, the scope of promising immunotherapeutic protocols is currently limited because tumors can create a ‘hostile–immunosuppressive microenvironment that prevents their destruction by anti-tumor T cells. There is a possibility to develop better and more effective immunotherapies by inactivating mechanisms that inhibit anti-tumor T cells in the tumor microenvironment and thereby protect cancerous tissues from immune damage. This may be now possible because of the recent demonstration that genetic deletion of immunosuppressive A2A and A2B adenosine receptors (A2AR and A2BR) or their pharmacological inactivation can prevent the inhibition of anti-tumor T cells by the hypoxic tumor microenvironment and as a result facilitate full tumor rejection [Ohta A, Gorelik E, Prasad SJ et al (2006) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103(35):13132–3137]. This approach is based on in vivo genetic evidence that A2AR play a critical role in the protection of normal tissues from overactive immune cells in acutely inflamed and hypoxic areas. The observations of much improved T-cell-mediated rejection of tumors in mice with inactivated A2AR strongly suggest that A2AR also protects hypoxic cancerous tissues and that A2AR should be inactivated in order to improve tumor rejection by anti-tumor T cells.
doi:10.1007/s11302-006-9044-9
PMCID: PMC2096757  PMID: 18404426
adenosine receptors; anti-tumor T cells; hypoxia; immunotherapy

Results 1-6 (6)