The A3 adenosine receptor (A3AR) has emerged as a therapeutic target with A3AR agonists to tackle the global challenge of neuropathic pain, and investigation into its mode of action is essential for ongoing clinical development. Immune cell A3ARs, and their activation during pathology, modulate cytokine release. Thus, the use of immune cells as a cellular substrate for the pharmacological action of A3AR agonists is enticing, but unknown. The present study discovered that Rag-KO mice lacking T and B cells, as compared with WT mice, are insensitive to the anti-allodynic effects of A3AR agonists. Similar findings were observed in interleukin-10 and interleukin-10 receptor knockout mice. Adoptive transfer of CD4+ T cells from WT mice infiltrated the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and restored A3AR agonist-mediated anti-allodynia in Rag-KO mice. CD4+ T cells from Adora3-KO or Il10-KO mice did not. Transfer of CD4+ T cells from WT mice, but not Il10-KO mice, into Il10-KO mice or Adora3-KO mice fully reinstated the anti-allodynic effects of A3AR activation. Notably, A3AR agonism reduced DRG neuron excitability when cocultured with CD4+ T cells in an IL-10–dependent manner. A3AR action on CD4+ T cells infiltrated in the DRG decreased phosphorylation of GluN2B-containing N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors at Tyr1472, a modification associated with regulating neuronal hypersensitivity. Our findings establish that activation of A3AR on CD4+ T cells to release IL-10 is required and sufficient evidence for the use of A3AR agonists as therapeutics.


Mariaconcetta Durante, Silvia Squillace, Filomena Lauro, Luigino Antonio Giancotti, Elisabetta Coppi, Federica Cherchi, Lorenzo Di Cesare Mannelli, Carla Ghelardini, Grant Kolar, Carrie Wahlman, Adeleye Opejin, Cuiying Xiao, Marc L. Reitman, Dilip K. Tosh, Daniel Hawiger, Kenneth A. Jacobson, Daniela Salvemini


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