Adenosine is a ubiquitous, endogenous purine involved in a variety of physiological and pathophysiological regulatory
mechanisms. Adenosine has been proposed as an endogenous antiarrhythmic substance to prevent hypoxia/ischemia-induced arrhythmias.
Adenosine (and its precursor, ATP) has been used in the therapy of various cardiac arrhythmias over the past six decades. Its primary
indication is treatment of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, but it can be effective in other forms of supraventricular and
ventricular arrhythmias, like sinus node reentry based tachycardia, triggered atrial tachycardia, atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia,
or ventricular tachycardia based on a cAMP-mediated triggered activity. The main advantage is the rapid onset and the short half life (1-
10 sec). Adenosine exerts its antiarrhythmic actions by activation of A1 adenosine receptors located in the sinoatrial and atrioventricular
nodes, as well as in activated ventricular myocardium. However, adenosine can also elicit A2A, A2B and A3 adenosine receptor-mediated
global side reactions (flushing, dyspnea, chest discomfort), but it may display also proarrhythmic actions mediated by primarily A1
adenosine receptors (e.g. bradyarrhythmia or atrial fibrillation). To avoid the non-specific global adverse reactions, A1 adenosine receptor-
selective full agonists (tecadenoson, selodenoson, trabodenoson) have been developed, which agents are currently under clinical trial.
During long-term administration with orthosteric agonists, adenosine receptors can be internalized and desensitized. To avoid desensitization,
proarrhythmic actions, or global adverse reactions, partial A1 adenosine receptor agonists, like CVT-2759, were developed. In addition,
the pharmacologically “silent” site- and event specific adenosinergic drugs, such as adenosine regulating agents and allosteric
modulators, might provide attractive opportunity to increase the effectiveness of beneficial actions of adenosine and avoid the adverse reactions.