High concentrations of adenosine are known to be toxic to fibroblasts and lymphocytes under conditions of in vitro culture (1,2). Normally, accumulation of adenosine nucleotides in all mammalian cells is prevented by the presence of adenosine deaminase, an aminohydrolase which converts adenosine to inosine (3). A genetically determined deficiency of adenosine deaminase has been associated with the autosomal recessive form of severe combined immunodeficiency, a syndrome in which precursor lymphocytes fail to mature into T cells and B cells (4-7). Erythrocytes of affected infants convert exogenous adenosine to AMP and ATP at an abnormally increased rate as a consequence of the enzyme defect, and ATP at an abnormally increased rate as a consequence of the enzyme defect, and fail to form inosine from the exogenous adenosine (8). These metabolic disturbances can be mimicked in normal erythrocytes by coformycin (8), a potent competitive inhibitor of adenosine deaminase (9, 10). In this study, the effects of coformycin were examined on the in vitro function of normal lymphocytes.

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