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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Caffeine and the Blood Brain Barrier

The blood brain barrier protects the delicate machinery of the brain from chemical insult and injury; however, caffeine readily crosses the blood brain barrier and, like nicotine, causes effects in the brain for a period of time after ingestion. The primary effect of caffeine in the brain is to bind to adenosine receptors, preventing adenosine from doing its job. The job of adenosine is to calm the brain and promote sleep. Each hour we are awake, more adenosine is produced. Caffeine prevents adenosine from being absorbed in the brain, thus disrupting brain function. Coffee may also be dopaminergic, causing a mood increase. The problem is that the action is unnatural and may lead to addiction and other side effects, such as sleeplessness.

Reference
  • Adenosine, adenosine receptors and the actions of caffeine. Fredholm B. B. Pharmacology & toxicology. 1995, vol. 76, no2, pp. 93-101. http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=3439703. Accessed 10/1/08.

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