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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Aug 29;103(35):13132-7. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

A2A adenosine receptor protects tumors from antitumor T cells.

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Laboratory of Immunology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The A2A adenosine receptor (A2AR) has been shown to be a critical and nonredundant negative regulator of immune cells in protecting normal tissues from inflammatory damage. We hypothesized that A2AR also protects cancerous tissues by inhibiting incoming antitumor T lymphocytes. Here we confirm this hypothesis by showing that genetic deletion of A2AR in the host resulted in rejection of established immunogenic tumors in approximately 60% of A2AR-deficient mice with no rejection observed in control WT mice. The use of antagonists, including caffeine, or targeting the A2 receptors by siRNA pretreatment of T cells improved the inhibition of tumor growth, destruction of metastases, and prevention of neovascularization by antitumor T cells. The data suggest that effects of A2AR are T cell autonomous. The inhibition of antitumor T cells via their A2AR in the adenosine-rich tumor microenvironment may explain the paradoxical coexistence of tumors and antitumor immune cells in some cancer patients (the "Hellstrom paradox"). We propose to target the hypoxia-->adenosine-->A2AR pathway as a cancer immunotherapy strategy to prevent the inhibition of antitumor T cells in the tumor microenvironment. The same strategy may prevent the premature termination of immune response and improve the vaccine-induced development of antitumor and antiviral T cells. The observations of autoimmunity during melanoma rejection in A2AR-deficient mice suggest that A2AR in T cells is also important in preventing autoimmunity. Thus, although using the hypoxia-->adenosine-->A2AR pathway inhibitors may improve antitumor immunity, the recruitment of this pathway by selective drugs is expected to attenuate the autoimmune tissue damage.

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