Revisiting cAMP signaling in the carotid body

Ana R Nunes, Andrew P Holmes, Sílvia V Conde, Estelle B Gauda, Emília C Monteiro

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12 Citations (Scopus)
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Chronic carotid body (CB) activation is now recognized as being essential in the development of hypertension and promoting insulin resistance; thus, it is imperative to characterize the chemotransduction mechanisms of this organ in order to modulate its activity and improve patient outcomes. For several years, and although controversial, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) was considered an important player in initiating the activation of the CB. However, its relevance was partially displaced in the 90s by the emerging role of the mitochondria and molecules such as AMP-activated protein kinase and O2-sensitive K(+) channels. Neurotransmitters/neuromodulators binding to metabotropic receptors are essential to chemotransmission in the CB, and cAMP is central to this process. cAMP also contributes to raise intracellular Ca(2+) levels, and is intimately related to the cellular energetic status (AMP/ATP ratio). Furthermore, cAMP signaling is a target of multiple current pharmacological agents used in clinical practice. This review (1) provides an outline on the classical view of the cAMP-signaling pathway in the CB that originally supported its role in the O2/CO2 sensing mechanism, (2) presents recent evidence on CB cAMP neuromodulation and (3) discusses how CB activity is affected by current clinical therapies that modify cAMP-signaling, namely dopaminergic drugs, caffeine (modulation of A2A/A2B receptors) and roflumilast (PDE4 inhibitors). cAMP is key to any process that involves metabotropic receptors and the intracellular pathways involved in CB disease states are likely to involve this classical second messenger. Research examining the potential modification of cAMP levels and/or interactions with molecules associated with CB hyperactivity is currently in its beginning and this review will open doors for future explorations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number406
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2014


  • cAMP signaling
  • carotid body
  • pharmacology
  • phosphodiesterase inhibitors
  • adenylyl cyclase
  • adenosine
  • dopamine
  • antipsychotics


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