Differential expression of adenosine A1 and A2A receptors after upper cervical (C2) spinal cord hemisection in adult rats

Theodor Petrov, Christian Kreipke, Warren Alilain, Kwaku D. Nantwi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: In an animal model of spinal cord injury, a latent respiratory motor pathway can be pharmacologically activated via adenosine receptors to restore respiratory function after cervical (C2) spinal cord hemisection that paralyzes the hemidiaphragm ipsilateral to injury. Although spinal phrenic motoneurons immunopositive for adenosine receptors have been demonstrated (C3-C5), it is unclear if adenosine receptor protein levels are altered after C2 hemisection and theophylline administration. Objective: To assess the effects of C2 spinal cord hemisection and theophylline administration on the expression of adenosine receptor proteins. Methods: Adenosine A1 and A2A receptor protein levels were assessed in adult rats classified as (a) noninjured and theophylline treated, (b) C2 hemisected, (c) C2 hemisected and administered theophylline orally (3× daily) for 3 days only, and (d) C2 hemisected and administered theophylline (3× daily for 3 days) and assessed 12 days after drug administration. Assessment of A1 protein levels was carried out via immunohistochemistry and A2A protein levels by densitometry. Results: Adenosine A1 protein levels decreased significantly (both ipsilateral and contralateral to injury) after C2 hemisection; however, the decrease was attenuated in hemisected and theophylline-treated animals. Attenuation in adenosine A1 receptor protein levels persisted when theophylline administration was stopped for 12 days prior to assessment. Adenosine A2A protein levels were unchanged by C2 hemisection; however, theophylline reduced the levels within the phrenic motoneurons. Furthermore, the decrease in A2A levels persisted 12 days after theophylline was withdrawn. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that theophylline mitigates the effects of C2 hemisection by attenuating the C2 hemisection-induced decrease in A1 protein levels. Furthermore, A2A protein levels are unaltered by C2 hemisection but decrease after continuous or interrupted theophylline administration. The effects on protein levels may underlie the stimulant actions of theophylline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-337
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2007


  • Adenosine A and A receptor protein expression
  • Cervical spinal cord hemisection
  • Densitometry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Theophylline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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