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J Immunol. 2006 Apr 1;176(7):4449-58.

Ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73)-mediated adenosine production is tissue protective in a model of bleomycin-induced lung injury.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Medical School, Houston, 77030, USA.


Adenosine signaling has diverse actions on inflammation and tissue injury. Levels of adenosine are rapidly elevated in response to tissue injury; however, the mechanisms responsible for adenosine production in response to injury are not well understood. In this study, we found that adenosine levels are elevated in the lungs of mice injured by the drug bleomycin. In addition, increased activity of ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73) was found in the lungs in conjunction with adenosine elevations. To determine the contribution of CD73 to the generation of adenosine in the lung, CD73(-/-) mice were subjected to bleomycin challenges. Results demonstrated that CD73(-/-) mice challenged with bleomycin no longer accumulated adenosine in their lungs, suggesting that the primary means of adenosine production following bleomycin injury resulted from the release and subsequent dephosphorylation of adenine nucleotides. CD73(-/-) mice challenged with bleomycin exhibited enhanced pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis as well as exaggerated expression of proinflammatory and profibrotic mediators in the lung. Intranasal instillations of exogenous nucleotidase restored the ability of lungs of CD73(-/-) mice to accumulate adenosine following bleomycin challenge. Furthermore, these treatments were associated with a decrease in pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis. CD73(+/+) animals challenged with bleomycin and supplemented with exogenous nucleotidase also exhibited reduced inflammation. Together, these findings suggest that CD73-dependent adenosine production contributes to anti-inflammatory pathways in bleomycin-induced lung injury.

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