Caffeine pp 107-118 | Cite as

Effects of Caffeine on Monoamine Neurotransmitters in the Central and Peripheral Nervous System

  • J. D. Fernstrom
  • M. H. Fernstrom


Over the past 10–15 years, interest in the behavioral and autonomic effects of caffeine has led neuropharmacologists, psychopharmacologists, and autonomic physiologists to explore for effects of this and related methylxanthines on the formation and release of neurotransmitters. Probably because of the availability of techniques and observed autonomic effects, most early studies focused on the catecholamines, and to a lesser extent on serotonin. In fact, the bulk of the neuropharmacologic literature on caffeine (which is small) considers effects related to these transmitters. Fewer and more recent studies have explored the possibility that caffeine effects may be mediated by other mechanisms, such as via an interaction with putative adenosine receptors. And only a handful of articles deal with effects of caffeine on such other transmitters as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and acetylcholine. For this reason, this review focuses primarily on the effects of caffeine on the monoamine neurotransmitters. Some information, however, is also presented on caffeine’s proposed effects on adenosine receptors, inasmuch as this is one possible route by which the methylxanthine exerts its actions on catecholamine neurons (as well as other cells). Reference to work on other transmitters is also made, but only in passing, to give the reader access to some of the available literature.


Adenosine Receptor Acetylcholine Release Catecholamine Synthesis Caffeine Administration Xanthine Derivative 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1984

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  • J. D. Fernstrom
  • M. H. Fernstrom

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