Rapid phosphoester hydrolysis of endogenous purine and pyrimidine nucleotides has challenged the characterization of the role of P2 receptors in physiology and pathology. Nucleotide phosphoester stabilization has been pursued on a number of medicinal chemistry fronts. We investigated the in vitro and in vivo stability and pharmacokinetics of prototypical nucleotide P2Y receptor (P2YR) agonists and antagonists. These included the riboside nucleotide agonist 2-methylthio-ADP and antagonist MRS2179, as well as agonist MRS2365 and antagonist MRS2500 containing constrained (N)-methanocarba rings, which were previously reported to form nucleotides that are more slowly hydrolyzed at the α-phosphoester compared with the ribosides. In vitro incubations in mouse and human plasma and blood demonstrated the rapid hydrolysis of these compounds to nucleoside metabolites. This metabolism was inhibited by EDTA to chelate divalent cations required by ectonucleotidases for nucleotide hydrolysis. This rapid hydrolysis was confirmed in vivo in mouse pharmacokinetic studies that demonstrate that MRS2365 is a prodrug of the nucleoside metabolite AST-004 (MRS4322). Furthermore, we demonstrate that the nucleoside metabolites of MRS2365 and 2-methylthio-ADP are adenosine receptor (AR) agonists, notably at A and AARs. In vivo efficacy of MRS2365 in murine models of traumatic brain injury and stroke can be attributed to AR activation by its nucleoside metabolite AST-004, rather than P2YR activation. This research suggests the importance of reevaluation of previous in vitro and in vivo research of P2YRs and P2XRs as there is a potential that the pharmacology attributed to nucleotide agonists is due to AR activation by active nucleoside metabolites.

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