The importance of adenosine for human health cannot be overstated. Indeed, this ubiquitous nucleoside is an integral component of ATP, and regulates the function of every tissue and organ in the body. Acting via receptor-dependent and -independent mechanisms [the former mediated via four G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), A1, A2A, A2B, and A3,], it has a significant role in protecting against cell damage in areas of increased tissue metabolism, and combating organ dysfunction in numerous pathological states. Accordingly, raised levels of adenosine have been demonstrated in epilepsy, ischaemia, pain, inflammation, and cancer, in which its behaviour can be likened to that of a guardian angel, even though there are instances in which overproduction of adenosine is pathological. In this review, we condense the current body of knowledge on the issue, highlighting when, where, and how adenosine exerts its protective effects in both the brain and the periphery.
Keywords: adenosine; adenosine receptors; cancer; inflammation; ischaemia; pain.
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