Current Atherosclerosis Reports

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 460–468 | Cite as

Regulation of Atherosclerosis and Associated Risk Factors by Adenosine and Adenosine Receptors

  • Milka Koupenova
  • Hillary Johnston-Cox
  • Katya Ravid
Clinical Trials and Their Interpretations (J Plutzky, Section Editor)


Adenosine is an endogenous metabolite that has an anti-inflammatory effect across the vasculature. Extracellular adenosine activates 4 G-protein coupled receptors (A1, A3, A2A, and A2B) whose expression varies in different cells and tissues, including the vasculature and blood cells. Higher levels of adenosine are generated during stress, inflammation, and upon tissue damage. Some of the adenosine receptors (AR), such as the A2BAR, are further up-regulated following such stresses. This review discusses the role of adenosine and adenosine receptors in the development of atherosclerosis and some of the risk factors associated with this pathology. These include adenosine receptor-regulated changes in atherosclerosis, blood pressure, thrombosis, and myocardial infarction. Potential therapeutic applications are reviewed, as well as reasons for phenotypic differences occasionally observed between receptor knockout and pharmacological inhibition via drug administration.


Adenosine Adenosine receptors Foam cells Atherosclerosis Myocardial infarction Ischemic preconditioning 



The authors apologize to all whose work they could not cite due to limited space required by the journal. This work was supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute grant HL93149, and by the Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center (DK046200) Pilot Grant to Katya Ravid; Milka Koupenova was supported by postdoctoral Training Grant from NIH (HL007224); Hillary A. Johnston-Cox was supported by pre-doctoral Training Grant from NIH (HL007969).


No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Milka Koupenova
    • 2
    • 5
  • Hillary Johnston-Cox
    • 3
  • Katya Ravid
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Boston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  2. 2.Whitaker Cardiovascular InstituteBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of MedicineBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  4. 4.Evans Medical CenterBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of MedicineUniversity of Massachusetts School of MedicineWorcesterUSA

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