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J Biol Chem. 1990 Feb 5;265(4):1946-51.

Ethanol increases extracellular adenosine by inhibiting adenosine uptake via the nucleoside transporter.

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Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


Chronic exposure to ethanol results in heterologous desensitization of receptors coupled to adenylyl cyclase via Gs, the stimulatory guanine nucleotide regulatory protein. Ethanol-induced accumulation of extracellular adenosine is required for the development of heterologous desensitization (Nagy, L. E., Diamond, I., Collier, K., Lopez, L., Ullman, B., and Gordon, A. S., Mol. Pharmacol., in press). To understand the mechanism underlying ethanol-induced increases in extracellular adenosine, we examined the interaction of ethanol with the adenosine transport system in S49 lymphoma cells. We found that ethanol inhibited nucleoside uptake without affecting deoxyglucose or isoleucine transport. Inhibition of adenosine uptake was due to decreased influx via the nucleoside transporter. Thus, ethanol-induced increases in extracellular adenosine appear to be due to inhibition of adenosine influx. After chronic exposure to ethanol, cells became tolerant to the acute effects of ethanol, i.e. ethanol no longer inhibited uptake. Consequently, ethanol no longer increased extracellular adenosine concentrations. Taken together with our previous studies, these results suggest that ethanol inhibition of adenosine influx leads to an increase in extracellular adenosine which causes an initial increase in intracellular cAMP levels and subsequent development of heterologous desensitization of cAMP signal transduction.

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