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Sci Transl Med. 2012 Aug 8;4(146):146ra108. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003717.

Selective activation of adenosine A2A receptors on immune cells by a CD73-dependent prodrug suppresses joint inflammation in experimental rheumatoid arthritis.

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Department of Molecular Cardiology, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf 40225, Germany.


Adenosine A(2A) receptor (A(2A)R) agonists are both highly effective anti-inflammatory agents and potent vasodilators. To separate these two activities, we have synthesized phosphorylated A(2A)R agonists (prodrugs) that require the presence of ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73) to become activated. In the model of collagen-induced arthritis, 2-(cyclohexylethylthio)adenosine 5'-monophosphate (chet-AMP), but not 2-(cyclohexylethylthio)adenosine (chet-adenosine), potently reduced inflammation as assessed by fluorine-19 ((19)F) magnetic resonance imaging and by histology. The prodrug effect was blunted by inhibition of CD73 and A(2A)R. The selectivity of drug action is due to profound up-regulation of CD73 and adenosine A(2A)R expression in neutrophils and inflammatory monocytes as found in recovered cells from the synovial fluid of arthritic mice. Plasma chet-adenosine was in the subnanomolar range when chet-AMP was applied, whereas concentrations required for vasodilation were about 100 times higher. Thus, chet-AMP is a potent immunosuppressant with negligible vasodilatory activity. These data suggest that phosphorylated A(2A)R agonists may serve as a promising new group of drugs for targeted immunotherapy of inflammation.

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