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J Neurochem. 2017 Jan;140(1):24-36. doi: 10.1111/jnc.13888. Epub 2016 Nov 29.

Multiple pathways for elevating extracellular adenosine in the rat hippocampal CA1 region characterized by adenosine sensor cells.

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Department of Biology, Kobe University Graduate School of Science, Kobe, Japan.


Extracellular adenosine in the brain, which modulates various physiological and pathological processes, fluctuates in a complicated manner that reflects the circadian cycle, neuronal activity, metabolism, and disease states. The dynamics of extracellular adenosine in the brain are not fully understood, largely because of the lack of simple and reliable methods of measuring time-dependent changes in tissue adenosine distribution. This study describes the development of a biosensor, designated an adenosine sensor cell, expressing adenosine A1 receptor, and a genetically modified G protein. This biosensor was used to characterize extracellular adenosine elevation in brain tissue by measuring intracellular calcium elevation in response to adenosine. Placement of adenosine sensor cells below hippocampal slices successfully detected adenosine releases from these slices in response to neuronal activity and astrocyte swelling by conventional calcium imaging. Pharmacological analyses indicated that high-frequency electrical stimulation-induced post-synaptic adenosine release in a manner dependent on L-type calcium channels and calcium-induced calcium release. Adenosine release following treatments that cause astrocyte swelling is independent of calcium channels, but dependent on aquaporin 4, an astrocyte-specific water channel subtype. The ability of ectonucleotidase inhibitors to inhibit adenosine release following astrocyte swelling, but not electrical stimulation, suggests that the former reflects astrocytic ATP release and subsequent enzymatic breakdown, whereas the latter reflects direct adenosine release from neurons. These results suggest that distinct mechanisms are responsible for extracellular adenosine elevations by neurons and astrocytes, allowing exquisite regulation of extracellular adenosine in the brain.


adenosine; astrocyte; calcium channel; dendrite; water channel

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