Adenosine production: a common path for mesenchymal stem-cell and regulatory T-cell-mediated immunosuppression

Purinergic Signal. 2016 Dec;12(4):595-609. doi: 10.1007/s11302-016-9529-0. Epub 2016 Aug 25.


Adenosine is an important molecule that exerts control on the immune system, by signaling through receptors lying on the surface of immune cells. This nucleotide is produced, in part, by the action of the ectoenzymes CD39 and CD73. Interestingly, these proteins are expressed on the cell surface of regulatory T-cells (Tregs) and mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs)-two cell populations that have emerged as potential therapeutic tools in the field of cell therapy. In fact, the production of adenosine constitutes a mechanism used by both cell types to control the immune response. Recently, great scientific progress was obtained regarding the role of adenosine in the inflammatory environment. In this context, the present review focuses on the advances related to the impact of adenosine production over the immune modulatory activity of Tregs and MSCs, and how this nucleotide controls the biological functions of these cells. Finally, we mention the main challenges and hurdles to bring such molecule to clinical settings.

Keywords: Adenosine; Mesenchymal stem cells; Regulatory T-cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance / physiology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism*


  • Adenosine