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Purinergic Signal. 2007 Sep;3(4):333-8. doi: 10.1007/s11302-007-9066-y. Epub 2007 Sep 15.

Adenosine A(2A) receptors modulate BDNF both in normal conditions and in experimental models of Huntington's disease.

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  • 1Department of Therapeutic Research and Medicine Evaluation, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena, 299, 00161, Rome, Italy.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a member of the neurotrophin family, enhances synaptic transmission and regulates neuronal proliferation and survival. Functional interactions between adenosine A(2A) receptors (A(2A)Rs) and BDNF have been recently reported. In this article, we report some recent findings from our group showing that A(2A)Rs regulate both BDNF functions and levels in the brain. Whereas BDNF (10 ng/ml) increased the slope of excitatory postsynaptic field potentials (fEPSPs) in hippocampal slices from wild-type (WT) mice, it was completely ineffective in slices taken from A(2A)R knock-out (KO) mice. Furthermore, enzyme immunoassay studies showed a significant reduction in hippocampal BDNF levels in A(2A)R KO vs. WT mice. Having found an even marked reduction in the striatum of A(2A)R KO mice, and as both BDNF and A(2A)Rs have been implicated in the pathogenesis of Huntington's disease (HD), an inherited striatal neurodegenerative disease, we then evaluated whether the pharmacological blockade of A(2A)Rs could influence striatal levels of BDNF in an experimental model of HD-like striatal degeneration (quinolinic acid-lesioned rats) and in a transgenic mice model of HD (R6/2 mice). In both QA-lesioned rats and early symptomatic R6/2 mice (8 weeks), the systemic administration of the A(2A)R antagonist SCH58261 significantly reduced striatal BDNF levels. These results indicate that the presence and the tonic activation of A(2A)Rs are necessary to allow BDNF-induced potentiation of synaptic transmission and to sustain a normal BDNF tone. The possible functional consequences of reducing striatal BDNF levels in HD models need further investigation.

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