Inosine is a nucleoside that is formed when hypoxanthine is attached to a ribose ring (also known as a ribofuranose) via a β-N9-glycosidic bond.
Inosine is commonly found in tRNAs and is essential for proper translation of the genetic code in wobble base pairs.
Knowledge of inosine metabolism has led to advances in immunotherapy in recent decades. Inosine monophosphate is oxidised by the enzyme inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase, yielding xanthosine monophosphate, a key precursor in purine metabolism. Mycophenolate mofetil is an anti-metabolite, anti-proliferative drug that acts as an inhibitor of inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase. It is used in the treatment of a variety of autoimmune diseases including Wegener's granulomatosis because the uptake of purine by actively dividing B cells can exceed 8 times that of normal body cells, and, therefore, this set of white cells (which cannot operate purine salvage pathways) is selectively targeted by the purine deficiency resulting from IMD inhibition.
Adenine is converted to adenosine or inosine monophosphate (IMP), either of which, in turn, is converted into inosine (I), which pairs with Adenine (A), cytosine (C), and uracil (U).
Purine nucleoside phosphorylase intraconverts inosine and hypoxanthine.
Inosine is also an intermediate in a chain of purine nucleotides reactions required for muscle movements.
It was tried in the 1970s in Eastern countries for improving athletic performance. Nevertheless, the clinical trials for this purpose showed no improvement. It has been shown that inosine has neuroprotective properties. It has been proposed for spinal cord injury; because it improves axonal rewiring, and for administration after stroke, because observation has shown that axonal re-wiring is encouraged.
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