Historical and Current Adenosine Receptor Agonists in Preclinical and Clinical Development


Adenosine receptors (ARs) function in the body’s response to conditions of pathology and stress associated with a functional imbalance, such as in the supply and demand of energy/oxygen/nutrients. Extracellular adenosine concentrations vary widely to raise or lower the basal activation of four subtypes of ARs. Endogenous adenosine can correct an energy imbalance during hypoxia and other stress, for example, by slowing the heart rate by A1AR activation or increasing the blood supply to heart muscle by the A2AAR. Moreover, exogenous AR agonists, antagonists, or allosteric modulators can be applied for therapeutic benefit, and medicinal chemists working toward that goal have reported thousands of such agents. Thus, numerous clinical trials have ensued, using promising agents to modulate adenosinergic signaling, most of which have not succeeded. Currently, short-acting, parenteral agonists, adenosine and Regadenoson, are the only AR agonists approved for human use. However, new concepts and compounds are currently being developed and applied toward preclinical and clinical evaluation, and initial results are encouraging. This review focuses on key compounds as AR agonists and positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) for disease treatment or diagnosis. AR agonists for treating inflammation, pain, cancer, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, angina, sickle cell disease, ischemic conditions and diabetes have been under development. Multiple clinical trials with two A3AR agonists are ongoing.

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Jacobson KA, Tosh DK, Jain S and Gao Z-G (2019) Historical and Current Adenosine Receptor Agonists in Preclinical and Clinical Development. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 13:124. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2019.00124

Keywords: purinergic signaling, adenosine receptors, inflammation, pain, CNS, preclinical studies and clinical trials, allosteric modulators, A3AR,
positive allosteric modulators (PAMs), A2AAR, A1AR, adenosine.

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