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Pulm Pharmacol. 1989;2(1):21-6.

Adenosine as a pro-inflammatory mediator in asthma.

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  • 1Immunopharmacology Group, Southampton General Hospital, United Kingdom.


Adenosine, which may be formed by all cells during relative energy or oxygen deficit, may act as an autocoid by modifying the function of other cells in the local environment. In asthmatic, but not normal, subjects, inhalation of adenosine causes a marked bronchoconstriction which may be reduced by the purinoceptor antagonist theophylline, sodium cromoglycate, nedocromil sodium, histamine, H1-antagonists and cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors. Repeated exposure to adenosine induces a state of tachyphylaxis and cross-tachyphylaxis with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction but not with that provoked by allergen. Although the mechanisms by which adenosine induces changes in airways function are not clear, it is suggested that it has an indirect effect, possibly by up-regulating bronchoconstrictor factors already present in asthma such as mast cell mediator release or neuronal reflexes.

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