Adenosine is a ubiquitous signaling molecule, with widespread activity across all organ systems. There is evidence that adenosine regulation is a significant factor in traumatic brain injury (TBI) onset, recovery, and outcome, and a growing body of experimental work examining the therapeutic potential of adenosine neuromodulation in the treatment of TBI. In the central nervous system (CNS), adenosine (dys)regulation has been demonstrated following TBI, and correlated to several TBI pathologies, including impaired cerebral hemodynamics, anaerobic metabolism, and inflammation. In addition to acute pathologies, adenosine function has been implicated in TBI comorbidities, such as cognitive deficits, psychiatric function, and post-traumatic epilepsy. This review presents studies in TBI as well as adenosine-related mechanisms in co-morbidities of and unfavorable outcomes resulting from TBI. While the exact role of the adenosine system following TBI remains unclear, there is increasing evidence that a thorough understanding of adenosine signaling will be critical to the development of diagnostic and therapeutic tools for the treatment of TBI.
Keywords: Adenosine deaminase, adenosine kinase, nucleotidase, nucleoside transport, caffeine, comorbidity