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Med Oncol. 2004;21(2):187-95.

Enzyme activities controlling adenosine levels in normal and neoplastic tissues.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Endocrine-Metabolic Sciences and Biochemistry, Division of Biochemistry, University of Siena, 53100 Siena, Italy.


Adenosine is known to be associated with effects such as inhibition of immune response, coronary vasodilation, stimulation of angiogenesis, and inhibition of inflammatory reactions. Some authors suggest that adenosine may also have similar functions in tumor tissues. Tissue levels of adenosine are under close regulation by different enzymes acting at different levels. Adenosine is produced from AMP by the action of 5'-nucleotidase (5'-NT) and is converted back into AMP by adenosine kinase (AK) or into inosine by adenosine deaminase (ADA). Inosine is converted into purine catabolites by purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP), whereas AMP is converted into ADP and ATP by adenylate kinase (MK). The aim of this study was to analyze the activities of the above enzymes in fragments of neoplastic and apparently normal mucosa, obtained less than 5 cm and at least 10 cm from tumors, in 40 patients with colorectal cancer. The results showed much higher activities of ADA, AK, 5'-NT, and PNP in tumor tissue than in neighboring mucosa (p > 0.01 for ADA, AK, and PNP; p > 0.05 for 5'-NT), suggesting that the activities of purine metabolizing enzymes increase to cope with accelerated purine metabolism in cancerous tissue. The simultaneous increase in ADA and 5'-NT activities might be a physiological attempt by cancer cells to provide more substrate to accelerate salvage pathway activity.

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