Adenine is a nucleobase that is one of the four building blocks of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid). It is a purine, which means that it has a double-ring structure. Adenine forms complementary base pairs with thymine in DNA and with uracil in RNA. The sequence of these base pairs encodes genetic information, which is used to make proteins and other cellular components.
Adenine is also involved in the cellular energy transfer process. It is a component of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a molecule that carries energy within cells. When ATP is hydrolyzed, or broken down, into ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and inorganic phosphate, energy is released and can be used for cellular processes.
In medicine, adenine is used therapeutically as a component of parenteral nutrition solutions to support patients who cannot consume adequate nutrients orally. Adenine can also be used in the treatment of certain genetic disorders, such as adenosine deaminase deficiency, which leads to severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). In this condition, the body is unable to produce functional T and B cells, which are essential components of the immune system. Adenine supplementation can help to support the function of these cells.