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Keywords:

  • Adenosine;
  • asthma;
  • bronchoconstriction;
  • xanthines;
  • new therapies

Adenosine is a powerful bronchoconstrictor of asthmatic, but not normal, airways. In vitro studies on isolated human mast cells and basophils revealed that adenosine and selective analogues augmented inflammatory mediator release from mast cells by stimulating A2 receptors. Pharmacological blockade of mast cell mediator release in vivo also attenuated adenosine-induced bronchoconstriction, as did theophylline, by adenosine A2 receptor antagonism. Further in vitro studies revealed that the asthmatic response to adenosine is likely to be mediated via the A2B subtype which is selectively antagonised by enprofylline. Studies in animal models, especially mice, have shown a close synergistic interaction between adenosine, Th2 and airway remodelling responses. The recent description of A2B receptors on human airway smooth muscle cells that mediate cytokine and chemokine release and induce differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts strengthens the view that adenosine maybe more than an inflammatory mediator in asthma but also participates in airway wall remodelling in this disease. These data have provided a firm basis for developing adenosine A2B receptor antagonists as a new therapeutic approach to this disease.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2005) 145, 1009–1015. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0706272