Research Article| Volume 23, ISSUE 8, P761-768, April 15, 1988

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Preferential effects of caffeine on limbic and cortical dopamine systems

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      In this study, we investigated the effects of acute caffeine administration on the activity of midbrain dopamine neurons. Caffeine significantly depressed the firing rates of dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area (A10 group), but had no significant effect on the firing rates of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra zona compacta (A9 group). The action of caffeine in A10 was completely blocked by pretreatment with the adenosine agonist l-phenyl-isopropyl-adenosine (L-PIA), confirming numerous lines of evidence that caffeine and other xanthines act as competitive antagonists at adenosine receptors. The dopamine antagonist haloperidol also antagonized the effects of caffeine. This finding is consistent with a mechanism of caffeine-induced depression of dopamine neuron activity involving dopamine release, similar to that observed during amphetamine administration. Finally, the benzodiazepine diazepam also antagonized the dopaminergic effects of caffeine. It appears that, in the rat, caffeine administration inhibits mesolimbic and mesocortical projecting dopamine neurons, but has no effect on dopamine neurons that project to the striatum.
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