Adenosine receptors and signaling in the kidney

William S. Spielman, Lois J. Arend

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


It is now generally accepted that adenosine is capable of regulating a wide range of physiological functions. Nowhere is the diversity of this action better illustrated than in the kidney. When adenosine binds to plasma membrane receptors on a variety of cell types in the kidney, it stimulates functional responses that span the entire spectrum of renal physiology, including alterations in hemodynamics, hormone and neurotransmitter release, and tubular reabsorption. These responses to adenosine appear to represent a means by which the organ and its constituent cell types can regulate their metabolic demand such that it is maintained at an appropriate level for the prevailing metabolic supply. Extracellular adenosine, produced from the hydrolysis of adenosine 5′-monophosphate and stimulated by increased substrate availability and enzyme induction, acts on at least two types of cell surface receptors to stimulate or inhibit the production of cyclic adenosine-3′,5′-monophosphate and also acts in some renal cells to stimulate the production of inositol phosphates and elevation of cytosolic calcium concentration. To understand when and why this complicated system becomes activated, how it interacts with other known extracellular effector systems, and ultimately how to manipulate the system to therapeutic advantage by selective agonists or antagonists, requires a detailed knowledge of renal adenosine receptors and their signaling mechanisms. The following discussion attempts to highlight our knowledge in this area, to present a modified hypothesis for adenosine as a feedback regulator of renal function, and to identify some important questions regarding the specific cellular mechanisms of adenosine in renal cell types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-130
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1991


  • Adenosine
  • Calcium
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Epithelium
  • Renal function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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