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Crit Care. 2008;12(5):226. doi: 10.1186/cc6990. Epub 2008 Sep 11.

Bench-to-bedside review: adenosine receptors--promising targets in acute lung injury?

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Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Tübingen, Hoppe-Seyler-Strasse, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany.


Acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are life-threatening disorders that have substantial adverse effects on outcomes in critically ill patients. ALI/ARDS develops in response to pulmonary or extrapulmonary injury and is characterized by increased leakage from the pulmonary microvasculature and excessive infiltration of polymorphonuclear cells into the lung. Currently, no therapeutic strategies are available to control these fundamental pathophysiological processes in human ALI/ARDS. In a variety of animal models and experimental settings, the purine nucleoside adenosine has been demonstrated to regulate both endothelial barrier integrity and polymorphonuclear cell trafficking in the lung. Adenosine exerts its effects through four G-protein-coupled receptors (A1, A2A, A2B, and A3) that are expressed on leukocytes and nonhematopoietic cells, including endothelial and epithelial cells. Each type of adenosine receptor (AR) is characterized by a unique pharmacological and physiological profile. The development of selective AR agonists and antagonists, as well as the generation of gene-deficient mice, has contributed to a growing understanding of the cellular and molecular processes that are critically involved in the development of ALI/ARDS. Adenosine-dependent pathways are involved in both protective and proinflammatory effects, highlighting the need for a detailed characterization of the distinct pathways. This review summarizes current experimental observations on the role of adenosine signaling in the development of acute lung injury and illustrates that adenosine and ARs are promising targets that may be exploited in the development of innovative therapeutic strategies.

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