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J Neurochem. 2016 Dec;139(6):1019-1055. doi: 10.1111/jnc.13724. Epub 2016 Aug 16.

How does adenosine control neuronal dysfunction and neurodegeneration?

Author information

1
CNC-Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.
2
FMUC-Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

Abstract

The adenosine modulation system mostly operates through inhibitory A1 (A1 R) and facilitatory A2A receptors (A2A R) in the brain. The activity-dependent release of adenosine acts as a brake of excitatory transmission through A1 R, which are enriched in glutamatergic terminals. Adenosine sharpens salience of information encoding in neuronal circuits: high-frequency stimulation triggers ATP release in the 'activated' synapse, which is locally converted by ecto-nucleotidases into adenosine to selectively activate A2A R; A2A R switch off A1 R and CB1 receptors, bolster glutamate release and NMDA receptors to assist increasing synaptic plasticity in the 'activated' synapse; the parallel engagement of the astrocytic syncytium releases adenosine further inhibiting neighboring synapses, thus sharpening the encoded plastic change. Brain insults trigger a large outflow of adenosine and ATP, as a danger signal. A1 R are a hurdle for damage initiation, but they desensitize upon prolonged activation. However, if the insult is near-threshold and/or of short-duration, A1 R trigger preconditioning, which may limit the spread of damage. Brain insults also up-regulate A2A R, probably to bolster adaptive changes, but this heightens brain damage since A2A R blockade affords neuroprotection in models of epilepsy, depression, Alzheimer's, or Parkinson's disease. This initially involves a control of synaptotoxicity by neuronal A2A R, whereas astrocytic and microglia A2A R might control the spread of damage. The A2A R signaling mechanisms are largely unknown since A2A R are pleiotropic, coupling to different G proteins and non-canonical pathways to control the viability of glutamatergic synapses, neuroinflammation, mitochondria function, and cytoskeleton dynamics. Thus, simultaneously bolstering A1 R preconditioning and preventing excessive A2A R function might afford maximal neuroprotection. The main physiological role of the adenosine modulation system is to sharp the salience of information encoding through a combined action of adenosine A2A receptors (A2A R) in the synapse undergoing an alteration of synaptic efficiency with an increased inhibitory action of A1 R in all surrounding synapses. Brain insults trigger an up-regulation of A2A R in an attempt to bolster adaptive plasticity together with adenosine release and A1 R desensitization; this favors synaptotocity (increased A2A R) and decreases the hurdle to undergo degeneration (decreased A1 R). Maximal neuroprotection is expected to result from a combined A2A R blockade and increased A1 R activation. This article is part of a mini review series: "Synaptic Function and Dysfunction in Brain Diseases".

KEYWORDS:

A1 receptor; A2A receptor; astrocyte; microglia; synaptic plasticity; synaptotoxicity

PMID:
27365148
DOI:
10.1111/jnc.13724
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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