Purines: From Diagnostic Biomarkers to Therapeutic Agents in Brain Injury

Neurosci Bull. 2020 Nov;36(11):1315-1326. doi: 10.1007/s12264-020-00529-z. Epub 2020 Jun 15.


The purines constitute a family of inter-related compounds that serve a broad range of important intracellular and extracellular biological functions. In particular, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and its metabolite and precursor, adenosine, regulate a wide variety of cellular and systems-level physiological processes extending from ATP acting as the cellular energy currency, to the adenosine arising from the depletion of cellular ATP and responding to reduce energy demand and hence to preserve ATP during times of metabolic stress. This inter-relationship provides opportunities for both the diagnosis of energy depletion during conditions such as stroke, and the replenishment of ATP after such events. In this review we address these opportunities and the broad potential of purines as diagnostics and restorative agents.

Keywords: ATP; Adenine; Adenosine; Biomarker; Cerebral ischemia; D-ribose; Purines; Stroke; Traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine
  • Adenosine Triphosphate*
  • Biomarkers
  • Brain Injuries* / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Purines*


  • Biomarkers
  • Purines
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Adenosine