Freshly drawn blood samples from seven female and seven male healthy donors were used. Arginine8-vasopressin (AVP) effects on platelet aggregation and serotonin (5-HT) release were examined in adenosine-depleted platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and PRP containing normal amounts of plasma adenosine. No significant differences in the plasma adenosine levels were noted between female (208 +/- 90 nM) and male (239 +/- 85 nM) subjects, but significant differences in AVP-induced platelet aggregation and 5-HT release were noted between female and male subjects. In adenosine-depleted PRP, platelets from most female donors could be aggregated irreversibly at low levels of AVP (18 mU/ml, or 42 nM), whereas platelets from most male donors responded poorly and caused only reversible aggregation at much higher AVP levels (108-720 mU/ml PRP or 252-1,680 nM). In contrast, in PRP containing normal amounts of adenosine, AVP response to induce platelet aggregation was much weaker, demonstrating that adenosine acts as a natural modulator of AVP actions. Theophylline and a relatively selective A2 antagonist DMPX (3,7-dimethyl-1-propargylxanthine) attenuate the plasma adenosine effects causing potentiation in AVP activity on platelet aggregation. These studies suggest that agents that can increase plasma adenosine levels (e.g., inhibitors of nucleoside transport and adenosine deaminase), or adenosine receptor antagonists, may have potential therapeutic uses in modulation of AVP actions in the body. Furthermore, the human platelet serves as a suitable pharmacologic model to study interactions between biologically produced adenosine and AVP.