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Keywords:

  • adenosine;
  • A2A receptors;
  • neurotrophic factors;
  • brain derived neurotrophic factor;
  • neurodegenerative diseases;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • Hungtington's disease;
  • Alzheimer's disease

G protein coupled receptors and tropomyosin-related kinase (Trk) receptors have distinct structure and transducing mechanisms; therefore, cross-talk among them was unexpected. Evidence has, however, accumulated showing that tonic adenosine A2A receptor activity is a required step to allow synaptic actions of neurotrophic factors, namely upon synaptic transmission at both pre- and post-synaptic level as well as upon synaptic plasticity. An enhancement of A2A receptor tonus upon ageing may partially compensate the loss of TrkB receptors, rescuing to certain degree the facilitatory action of brain derived neurotrophic factor in aged animals, which might prove particularly relevant in the prevention of neurodegeneration upon ageing. A2A receptors also trigger synaptic actions of other neurotrophic factors, such as glial derived neurotrophic factor at dopaminergic striatal nerve endings. The growing evidence that tonic adenosine A2A receptor activity is a crucial step to allow actions of neurotrophic factors in neurones will be reviewed and discussed in the light of therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative diseases.