Limonene, a natural cyclic terpene, is an agonistic ligand for adenosine A2A receptors

Hyo Min Park, Ji Hae Lee, Jia Yaoyao, Hee Jin Jun, Sung Joon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Limonene is a major aromatic compound in essential oils extracted from citrus rind. The application of limonene, especially in aromatherapy, has expanded significantly, but its potential effects on cellular metabolism have been elusive. We found that limonene directly binds to the adenosine A2A receptor, which may induce sedative effects. Results from an in vitro radioligand binding assay showed that limonene exhibits selective affinity to A2A receptors. In addition, limonene increased cytosolic cAMP concentration and induced activation of protein kinase A and phosphorylation of cAMP-response element-binding protein in Chinese hamster ovary cells transfected with the human adenosine A2A receptor gene. Limonene also increased cytosolic calcium concentration, which can be achieved by the activation of adenosine A2A receptors. These findings suggest that limonene can act as a ligand and an agonist for adenosine A2A receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-348
Number of pages4
JournalBiochemical and biophysical research communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan 7


  • Adenosine A receptors
  • CAMP
  • Limonene
  • Radioligand binding assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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