Adenosine Receptor-Mediated Cardioprotection: Are All 4 Subtypes Required or Redundant?

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Adenosine is a purine nucleoside, which is produced primarily through the metabolism of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), therefore its levels increase during stressful situations when ATP utilization increases. Adenosine exerts potent cardioprotective effects on the ischemic/reperfused heart, reducing reversible and irreversible myocardial injury. Adenosine receptors (ARs) are G-protein-coupled receptors, and 4 subtypes exist—A1, A2a, A2b, and A3, all of which have been shown to be cardioprotective. Adenosine receptors are expressed on multiple cardiac cells, including fibroblasts, endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, and myocytes. Activation of both A1 and A3 receptors prior to ischemia has been shown in multiple experimental models to reduce ischemia/reperfusion-induced cardiac injury. Additionally, activation of the A2a receptor at the onset of reperfusion has been shown to reduce injury. Most recently, there is evidence that the A2b receptor has cardioprotective effects upon its activation. However, controversy remains regarding the precise timing of activation of these receptors required to induce cardioprotection, as well as their involvement in ischemic preconditioning and postconditioning. Adenosine receptors have been suggested to reduce cell death through actions at the mitochondrial ATP-dependent potassium (KATP) channel, as well as protein kinase C and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling. Additionally, the ability of ARs to interact has been documented, and several recent reports suggest that these interactions play a role in AR-mediated cardioprotection. This review summarizes the current knowledge of the cardioprotective effects of each AR subtype, as well as the proposed mechanisms of AR cardioprotection. Additionally, the role of AR interactions in cardioprotection is discussed.

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