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Eur J Immunol. 2010 Feb;40(2):449-59. doi: 10.1002/eji.200939586.

Adenosine mediated desensitization of cAMP signaling enhances T-cell responses.

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Immunology Research Group and Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alta., Canada.


Adenosine has long been regarded as a crucial anti-inflammatory agent that protects the host from excessive damage. It has been reported to play an important role in suppressing immune activation, particularly that of T cells. However, it is a general observation that induction of T-cell activation is an efficient event despite the high adenosine levels that are often present in the affected host due to injury or stress. We report here that prior to antigenic stimulation via TCR/CD3, exposure of T cells to adenosine desensitizes adenosine receptors, so as to create a window of time where the T cells are insensitive to this ubiquitous suppressor. T cells from mice that were pre-exposed to this manipulation showed stronger responses to antigenic stimulation; therefore, the P1 adenosine receptor desensitization demonstrated an adjuvant-like effect. Our results suggest that adenosine receptor desensitization may be a mechanism for T cells to escape the general suppression during early points of T-cell activation and may emerge as a potential alternative for vaccine adjuvants.

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