Pharmacy World and Science

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 62–68 | Cite as

Release and actions of adenosine in the central nervous system

  • M. J. Higgins
  • H. Hosseinzadeh
  • D. G. MacGregor
  • H. Ogilvy
  • T. W. Stone
Purine and Pyrimidine Metabolism


Adenosine is released from active neurons into the extracellular fluid at a concentration of about 1μmol/l. Neither the precise cellular origin nor the biochemical form of release has been firmly established, though the nucleotide is probably released partly directly, as a result of raised intracellular levels, and partly as nucleotides, which are subsequently hydrolysed. Once in the extracellular medium, adenosine markedly inhibits the release of excitatory neurotransmitters and modulatory peptides and has direct inhibitory effects on postsynaptic excitability via A1 receptors. A population of A2 receptors may mediate depolarization and enhanced transmitter release. Adenosine also modulates neuronal sensitivity to acetylcholine and catecholarnines, all these effects probably contributing to the behavioural changes observed in conscious animals. As a result of their many actions, adenosine analogues are being intensively investigated for use as anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, and neuroprotective agents.


Adenosine Central nervous system Interactions Neural transmission Neurosecretary systems Hippocampus Nucleosides Purines Receptors, purinergic Synapses 


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Copyright information

© Royal Dutch Association for the Advancement of Pharmacy 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Higgins
    • 1
  • H. Hosseinzadeh
    • 1
  • D. G. MacGregor
    • 1
  • H. Ogilvy
    • 1
  • T. W. Stone
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowScotland

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