Adenosine is both a chemical found in many living systems and a medication. As a medication, it is used intravenously to treat certain forms of supraventricular tachycardia that do not improve with vagal maneuvers. Common side effects include chest pain, feeling faint, shortness of breath, headache and tingling of the senses. Serious side effects include increased dysrhythmia and reduced blood pressure. It appears to be safe in pregnancy.
|Trade names||Adenocard; Adenocor; Adenic; Adenoco; Adeno-Jec; Adenoscan; Adenosin; Adrekar; Krenosin|
|Other names||SR-96225 (developmental code name)|
(adenosine may be safe to the fetus in pregnant women)
|Bioavailability||Rapidly cleared from circulation via cellular uptake|
|Metabolism||Rapidly converted to inosine and adenosine monophosphate|
|Elimination half-life||cleared plasma <30 seconds; half-life <10 seconds|
|Excretion||can leave cell intact or can be degraded to hypoxanthine, xanthine, and ultimately uric acid|
|CompTox Dashboard (EPA)|
|ECHA InfoCard||100.000.354 |
|Chemical and physical data|
|Molar mass||267.241 g/mol g·mol−1|
|3D model (JSmol)|
It is a purine nucleoside composed of a molecule of adenine attached to a ribose sugar molecule (ribofuranose) moiety via a β-N9-glycosidic bond. Derivatives of adenosine are widely found in nature and play an important role in biochemical processes, such as energy transfer—as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and adenosine diphosphate (ADP)—as well as in signal transduction as cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Adenosine itself is a neuromodulator, believed to play a role in promoting sleep and suppressing arousal. It also plays a role in regulation of blood flow to various organs through vasodilation.
In individuals with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), adenosine is used to help identify and convert the rhythm.
Certain SVTs can be successfully terminated with adenosine. This includes any re-entrant arrhythmias that require the AV node for the re-entry, e.g., AV reentrant tachycardia (AVRT), AV nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT). In addition, atrial tachycardia can sometimes be terminated with adenosine.
Fast rhythms of the heart that are confined to the atria (e.g., atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter) or ventricles (e.g., monomorphic ventricular tachycardia) and do not involve the AV node as part of the re-entrant circuit are not typically converted by adenosine. However, the ventricular response rate is temporarily slowed with adenosine in such cases.
Because of the effects of adenosine on AV node-dependent SVTs, adenosine is considered a class V antiarrhythmic agent. When adenosine is used to cardiovert an abnormal rhythm, it is normal for the heart to enter ventricular asystole for a few seconds. This can be disconcerting to a normally conscious patient, and is associated with angina-like sensations in the chest.
Nuclear stress test
When given for the evaluation or treatment of a supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), the initial dose is 6 mg to 12 mg, depending on standing orders or provider preference, given as a rapid parenteral infusion. Due to adenosine's extremely short half-life, the IV line is started as proximal (near) to the heart as possible, such as the antecubital fossa. The IV push is often followed with an immediate flush of 10–20 ccs of saline. If this has no effect (i.e., no evidence of transient AV block), a dose of 12 mg can be given 1–2 minutes after the first dose. When given to dilate the arteries, such as in a "stress test", the dosage is typically 0.14 mg/kg/min, administered for 4 or 6 minutes, depending on the protocol.
The recommended dose may be increased in patients on theophylline, since methylxanthines prevent binding of adenosine at receptor sites. The dose is often decreased in patients on dipyridamole (Persantine) and diazepam (Valium) because adenosine potentiates the effects of these drugs. The recommended dose is also reduced by half in patients presenting congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, shock, hypoxia, and/or chronic liver disease or chronic kidney disease, and in elderly patients.
Dipyridamole potentiates the action of adenosine, requiring the use of lower doses.
Methylxanthines (e.g., caffeine, found in coffee, or theophylline in tea, or theobromine, as found in chocolate) competitively antagonize adenosine's effects; an increased dose of adenosine may be required. By nature of caffeine's purine structure, it binds to some of the same receptors as adenosine. The pharmacological effects of adenosine may be blunted in individuals taking large quantities of methylxanthines.
Common contraindications for adenosine include
- Asthma, traditionally considered an absolute contraindication. This is being contended and it is now considered a relative contraindication (however, selective adenosine antagonists are being investigated for use in treatment of asthma)
- Decompensated heart failure
- Long QT syndrome
- Poison/drug-induced tachycardia
- Second- or third-degree heart block (without a pacemaker)
- Severe hypotension
- Sick sinus syndrome (without a pacemaker)
When administered via a central lumen catheter, adenosine has been shown to initiate atrial fibrillation because of its effect on atrial tissue. In individuals with accessory pathways, the onset of atrial fibrillation can lead to a life-threatening ventricular fibrillation. However, adenosine may be administered if equipment for cardioversion is immediately available as a backup.
Many individuals experience facial flushing, a temporary rash on the chest, lightheadedness, diaphoresis, or nausea after administration of adenosine due to its vasodilatory effects. Metallic taste is a hallmark side-effect of adenosine administration. These symptoms are transitory, usually lasting less than one minute. It is classically associated with a sense of "impending doom", more prosaically described as apprehension. This lasts a few seconds after administration of a bolus dose, during transient asystole induced by intravenous administration. In some cases, adenosine can make patients' limbs feel numb for about 2–5 minutes after administration intravenously depending on the dosage (usually above 12 mg).
Extracellular adenosine concentrations from normal cells are approximately 300 nM; however, in response to cellular damage (e.g., in inflammatory or ischemic tissue), these concentrations are quickly elevated (600–1,200 nM). Thus, in regard to stress or injury, the function of adenosine is primarily that of cytoprotection preventing tissue damage during instances of hypoxia, ischemia, and seizure activity. Activation of A2A receptors produces a constellation of responses that in general can be classified as anti-inflammatory.
All adenosine receptor subtypes (A1, A2A, A2B, and A3) are G-protein-coupled receptors. The four receptor subtypes are further classified based on their ability to either stimulate or inhibit adenylate cyclase activity. The A1 receptors couple to Gi/o and decreases cAMP levels, while the A2 adenosine receptors couple to Gs, which stimulates adenylate cyclase activity. In addition, A1 receptors couple to Go, which has been reported to mediate adenosine inhibition of Ca2+ conductance, whereas A2B and A3 receptors also couple to Gq and stimulate phospholipase activity. Researchers at Cornell University have recently shown adenosine receptors to be key in opening the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Mice dosed with adenosine have shown increased transport across the BBB of amyloid plaque antibodies and prodrugs associated with Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, and cancers of the central nervous system.
Ghrelin/growth hormone secretagogue receptor
Adenosine is an endogenous agonist of the ghrelin/growth hormone secretagogue receptor. However, while it is able to increase appetite, unlike other agonists of this receptor, adenosine is unable to induce the secretion of growth hormone and increase its plasma levels.
Mechanism of action
When it is administered intravenously, adenosine causes transient heart block in the atrioventricular (AV) node. This is mediated via the A1 receptor, inhibiting adenylyl cyclase, reducing cAMP and so causing cell hyperpolarization by increasing K+ efflux via inward rectifier K+ channels, subsequently inhibiting Ca2+ current. It also causes endothelial-dependent relaxation of smooth muscle as is found inside the artery walls. This causes dilation of the "normal" segments of arteries, i.e. where the endothelium is not separated from the tunica media by atherosclerotic plaque. This feature allows physicians to use adenosine to test for blockages in the coronary arteries, by exaggerating the difference between the normal and abnormal segments.
The administration of adenosine also reduces blood flow to coronary arteries past the occlusion. Other coronary arteries dilate when adenosine is administered while the segment past the occlusion is already maximally dilated, which is a process called coronary steal. This leads to less blood reaching the ischemic tissue, which in turn produces the characteristic chest pain.
Adenosine used as a second messenger can be the result of de novo purine biosynthesis via adenosine monophosphate (AMP), though it is possible other pathways exist.
When adenosine enters the circulation, it is broken down by adenosine deaminase, which is present in red blood cells and the vessel wall.
Dipyridamole, an inhibitor of adenosine nucleoside transporter, allows adenosine to accumulate in the blood stream. This causes an increase in coronary vasodilatation.
Adenosine deaminase deficiency is a known cause of immunodeficiency.
The adenosine analog NITD008 has been reported to directly inhibit the recombinant RNA-dependent RNA polymerase of the dengue virus by terminating its RNA chain synthesis. This suppresses peak viremia and rise in cytokines and prevented lethality in infected animals, raising the possibility of a new treatment for this flavivirus. The 7-deaza-adenosine analog has been shown to inhibit the replication of the hepatitis C virus. BCX4430 is protective against Ebola and Marburg viruses. Such adenosine analogs are potentially clinically useful since they can be taken orally.
Adenosine is believed to be an anti-inflammatory agent at the A2A receptor. Topical treatment of adenosine to foot wounds in diabetes mellitus has been shown in lab animals to drastically increase tissue repair and reconstruction. Topical administration of adenosine for use in wound-healing deficiencies and diabetes mellitus in humans is currently under clinical investigation.
Methotrexate's anti-inflammatory effect may be due to its stimulation of adenosine release.
Central nervous system
In general, adenosine has an inhibitory effect in the central nervous system (CNS). Caffeine's stimulatory effects are credited primarily (although not entirely) to its capacity to block adenosine receptors, thereby reducing the inhibitory tonus of adenosine in the CNS. This reduction in adenosine activity leads to increased activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate. Experimental evidence suggests that adenosine and adenosine agonists can activate Trk receptor phosphorylation through a mechanism that requires the adenosine A2A receptor.
Adenosine has been shown to promote thickening of hair on people with thinning hair. A 2013 study compared topical adenosine with minoxidil in male androgenetic alopecia, finding it was not superior to minoxidil and further trials were needed.
The principal component of marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) induce sleep in rats by increasing adenosine levels in the basal forebrain. They also significantly increase slow-wave sleep during the third hour, mediated by CB1 receptor activation. These findings identify a potential therapeutic use of cannabinoids to induce sleep in conditions where sleep may be severely attenuated.
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