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A novel nucleoside rescue metabolic pathway may be responsible for therapeutic effect of orally administered cordycepin

Lee, Jong Bong; Radhi, Masar; Cipolla, Elena; Gandhi, Raj D.; Sarmad, Sarir; Zgair, Atheer; Kim, Tae Hwan; Feng, Wanshan; Qin, Chaolong; Adrower, Cecilia; Ortori, Catherine; Barrett, David A; Kagan, Leonid; Fischer, Peter M.; De Moor, Cornelia H.; Gershkovich, Pavel


Jong Bong Lee

Masar Radhi

Elena Cipolla

Raj D. Gandhi

Sarir Sarmad

Atheer Zgair

Tae Hwan Kim

Wanshan Feng

Chaolong Qin

Cecilia Adrower

Catherine Ortori

David A Barrett

Leonid Kagan

Peter M. Fischer

Cornelia H. De Moor

Pavel Gershkovich


Although adenosine and its analogues have been assessed in the past as potential drug candidates due to the important role of adenosine in physiology, only little is known about their absorption following oral administration. In this work, we have studied the oral absorption and disposition pathways of cordycepin, an adenosine analogue. In vitro biopharmaceutical properties and in vivo oral absorption and disposition of cordycepin were assessed in rats. Despite the fact that numerous studies showed efficacy following oral dosing of cordycepin, we found that intact cordycepin was not absorbed following oral administration to rats. However, 3′-deoxyinosine, a metabolite of cordycepin previously considered to be inactive, was absorbed into the systemic blood circulation. Further investigation was performed to study the conversion of 3′-deoxyinosine to cordycepin 5′-triphosphate in vitro using macrophage-like RAW264.7 cells. It demonstrated that cordycepin 5′-triphosphate, the active metabolite of cordycepin, can be formed not only from cordycepin, but also from 3′-deoxyinosine. The novel nucleoside rescue metabolic pathway proposed in this study could be responsible for therapeutic effects of adenosine and other analogues of adenosine following oral administration. These findings may have importance in understanding the physiology and pathophysiology associated with adenosine, as well as drug discovery and development utilising adenosine analogues.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2019-12
Journal Scientific Reports
Print ISSN 2045-2322
Electronic ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Article Number 15760
APA6 Citation Lee, J. B., Radhi, M., Cipolla, E., Gandhi, R. D., Sarmad, S., Zgair, A., …Gershkovich, P. (2019). A novel nucleoside rescue metabolic pathway may be responsible for therapeutic effect of orally administered cordycepin. Scientific Reports, 9,
Keywords Adenosine; 3’-deoxyadenosine; 3’-deoxyinosine; Cordycepin triphosphate;Pharmacokinetics; Metabolite
Publisher URL
Additional Information Received: 8 May 2019; Accepted: 12 October 2019; First Online: 31 October 2019; : The authors declare no competing interests.


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