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J Immunol. 2009 Jun 15;182(12):7603-12. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0803383.

Differential expression of adenosine A3 receptors controls adenosine A2A receptor-mediated inhibition of TLR responses in microglia.

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Alternatives Unit, Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.


Microglia activation is a prominent feature in many neuroinflammatory disorders. Unrestrained activation can generate a chronic inflammatory environment that might lead to neurodegeneration and autoimmunity. Extracellular adenosine modulates cellular activation through adenosine receptor (ADORA)-mediated signaling. There are four ADORA subtypes that can either increase (A(2A) and A(2B) receptors) or decrease (A(1) and A(3) receptors) intracellular cyclic AMP levels. The expression pattern of the subtypes thus orchestrates the cellular response to extracellular adenosine. We have investigated the expression of ADORA subtypes in unstimulated and TLR-activated primary rhesus monkey microglia. Activation induced an up-regulation of A(2A) and a down-regulation of A(3) receptor (A(3)R) levels. The altered ADORA-expression pattern sensitized microglia to A(2A) receptor (A(2A)R)-mediated inhibition of subsequent TLR-induced cytokine responses. By using combinations of subtype-specific agonists and antagonists, we revealed that in unstimulated microglia, A(2A)R-mediated inhibitory signaling was effectively counteracted by A(3)R-mediated signaling. In activated microglia, the decrease in A(3)R-mediated signaling sensitized them to A(2A)R-mediated inhibitory signaling. We report a differential, activation state-specific expression of ADORA in microglia and uncover a role for A(3)R as dynamically regulated suppressors of A(2A)R-mediated inhibition of TLR-induced responses. This would suggest exploration of combinations of A(2A)R agonists and A(3)R antagonists to dampen microglial activation during chronic neuroinflammatory conditions.

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