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Cell Tissue Res. 2007 Jun;328(3):461-71. Epub 2007 Feb 7.

Differential distribution of adenosine receptors in rat cochlea.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.


Adenosine is a constitutive cell metabolite that can be released from cells via specific bi-directional transporters and is an end-point for nucleotide hydrolysis. In the extracellular space, adenosine becomes a signalling molecule for P1 (adenosine) receptors that modulate physiological responses in a wide range of mammalian tissues. Whereas adenosine signalling has been implicated in the regulation of cochlear blood flow and in cochlear protection from oxidative damage, the potential roles for adenosine signalling in the modulation of sound transduction and auditory neurotransmission have not been established. We have characterised the expression and distribution of adenosine receptors in the rat cochlea. mRNA transcripts for all four subtypes of adenosine receptors (A(1), A(2A), A(2B) and A(3)) were detected in dissected cochlear tissue by using reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction analysis. The protein distribution for the A(1), A(2A) and A(3) receptor subtypes was identified by immunoperoxidase histochemistry and confocal immunofluorescence labelling. These receptors were differentially expressed in the organ of Corti, spiral ganglion neurones, lateral wall tissues and cochlear blood vessels. The distribution of adenosine receptors in sensory and neural tissues and in the vasculature coincided with other elements of purinergic signalling (P2X and P2Y receptors, ectonucleotidases), consistent with the integrative regulation of many physiological processes in the cochlea by extracellular nucleotides and nucleosides. Our study provides a framework for further investigation of adenosine signalling in the inner ear, including putative roles in oxidative stress responses.

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