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Caffeine Effects In The Brain Essay

1844 words - 7 pages

Caffeine Effects In The Brain


Caffeine acts in a multitude of ways in the brain. The
most recent studies explore the cooperative effects of
adenosine and dopamine, as well as the increase in calcium
in the interstitial fluid and possible accumulation of
cyclic adenosine monophospate. The most popular discussions
of earlier studies of caffeine demonstrate its antagonistic
effects on adenosine receptors. While it has been reported
that adenosine receptors are located throughout the brain,
the various subtypes can be found in very specific areas.
Studies have also shown that caffeine reactions in the brain
are based on the localization of adenosine receptors,
dopamine receptors, and the amount of caffeine.

Historically, the first behavior of caffeine in the
brain to be noticed was the stimulation of the release of
caffeine from intracellular storage sites. (Daly, 1999) In
research done by Garrett and Griffiths (1997) caffeine was
shown to mobilize intracellular calcium by reducing the
calcium uptake and stimulating calcium release. Caffeine
would attach to a calcium channel in this way activating it
and releasing calcium from the "calcium-sensitive"
pool.(Daly, 1999) Due to the importance of calcium
concentrations for the release of neurotransmitters, Garrett
determined, "…mobilization of intracellular calcium has been
proposed as a possible mechanism underlying the behavioral
effects of caffeine" (p.534). However, this determination
was made in vitro and required nearly toxic levels of
caffeine, levels that would rarely be ingested by humans.
(Garrett, 1997; Daly 1999) [See Table 1]

The next effect is the forcing of accumulation of
cyclic adenosine monophospate [cyclic AMP]. This occurs
because caffeine inhibits cyclic nucleotide
phosphodiesterase activity which produces an accumulation of
cyclic AMP. (Garrett, 1997; Myers, 1999) According to the
Pacific Nueropsychiatric Institute "caffeine inhibits
phosphodiesterase breakdown of cyclie 3',-5'-adenosine
monophosphate. (Pharmacology, caffeine, 2) Again, this
occurs only in large quantities that have yet to be
naturally found in vivo. (Myers, 1999) Keep in mind that if
cyclic AMP had a greater than normal concentration in the
synaptic cleft, it would continue to breakdown adenosine
which has a depressant effect on functions in the brain. For
example, adenosine in the central nervous system inhibits
neurotransmitter release and depresses locomotor activity,
however with higher concentrations of cyclic AMP there is
less adenosine so, the effects on the biology of the brain
are an enhanced neurotransmitter release, and stimulated
locomotor activity (Garrett, 1997).

Another way caffeine acts on the brain is indirectly
through the dopamine receptors. As stated by Garrett and
Griffiths (1997), "Although caffeine does not bind directly
to dopamine receptors a number of...

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