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Prog Neurobiol. 2007 Dec;83(5):277-92. Epub 2007 Jun 26.

Adenosine A2A receptors and basal ganglia physiology.

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Laboratory of Neurophysiology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Campus Erasme, 808 route de Lennik, CP601, 1070 Brussels, Belgium.


Adenosine A2A receptors are highly enriched in the basal ganglia system. They are predominantly expressed in enkephalin-expressing GABAergic striatopallidal neurons and therefore are highly relevant to the function of the indirect efferent pathway of the basal ganglia system. In these GABAergic enkephalinergic neurons, the A2A receptor tightly interacts structurally and functionally with the dopamine D2 receptor. Both by forming receptor heteromers and by targeting common intracellular signaling cascades, A2A and D2 receptors exhibit reciprocal antagonistic interactions that are central to the function of the indirect pathway and hence to basal ganglia control of movement, motor learning, motivation and reward. Consequently, this A2A/D2 receptors antagonistic interaction is also central to basal ganglia dysfunction in Parkinson's disease. However, recent evidence demonstrates that, in addition to this post-synaptic site of action, striatal A2A receptors are also expressed and have physiological relevance on pre-synaptic glutamatergic terminals of the cortico-limbic-striatal and thalamo-striatal pathways, where they form heteromeric receptor complexes with adenosine A1 receptors. Therefore, A2A receptors play an important fine-tuning role, boosting the efficiency of glutamatergic information flow in the indirect pathway by exerting control, either pre- and/or post-synaptically, over other key modulators of glutamatergic synapses, including D2 receptors, group I metabotropic mGlu5 glutamate receptors and cannabinoid CB1 receptors, and by triggering the cAMP-protein kinase A signaling cascade.

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