Biased agonism at adenosine receptors

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Adenosine modulates many aspects of human physiology and pathophysiology through binding to the adenosine family of G protein-coupled receptors, which are comprised of four subtypes, the A1R, A2AR, A2BR and A3R. Modulation of adenosine receptor function by exogenous agonists, antagonists and allosteric modulators can be beneficial for a number of conditions including cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's disease, and cancer. Unfortunately, many preclinical drug candidates targeting adenosine receptors have failed in clinical trials due to limited efficacy and/or severe on-target undesired effects. To overcome the key barriers typically encountered when transitioning adenosine receptor ligands into the clinic, research efforts have focussed on exploiting the phenomenon of biased agonism. Biased agonism provides the opportunity to develop ligands that favour therapeutic signalling pathways, whilst avoiding signalling associated with on-target undesired effects. Recent studies have begun to define the structure-function relationships that underpin adenosine receptor biased agonism and establish how this phenomenon can be harnessed therapeutically. In this review we describe the recent advancements made towards achieving therapeutically relevant biased agonism at adenosine receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109954
Number of pages10
JournalCellular Signalling
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Adenosine receptor
  • Allostery
  • Biased agonism
  • Drug discovery
  • G protein-coupled receptor

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