Adenosine as a Non-Opioid Analgesic in the Perioperative Setting
Adenosine, a ubiquitous metabolic intermediate in the body, is involved in nearly every aspect of cell function, including neuromodulation and neurotransmission. Adenosine A(1) and A(2) receptors are widely distributed in the brain and spinal cord, and are a novel, non-opiate target for pain management. The potential of adenosine as a non-narcotic analgesic in anesthetized patients has been explored in clinical trials, including double-blind studies versus placebo and remifentanil infusion. These studies suggest that, compared to placebo or remifentanil, an intraoperative adenosine infusion stabilizes core hemodynamics and reduces the requirement for anesthesia during surgery. Further, adenosine improves postoperative recovery, as indicated by lower pain scores and less opioid consumption. The safety profile of adenosine has been well characterized based on use of currently approved adenosine products. The most common adverse events associated with its use include flushing, chest discomfort, dyspnea, headache, gastrointestinal discomfort, and lightheadedness. These effects are generally well tolerated and transient. Further studies are warranted to investigate the full potential of adenosine as a non-opioid analgesic in the perioperative setting.
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