Assessment of the Drug-Drug Interaction Potential Between Theacrine and Caffeine in Humans

J Caffeine Res. 2017 Sep 1;7(3):95-102. doi: 10.1089/jcr.2017.0006.


Objective: Theacrine, a methylurate class purine alkaloid, triggers diverse pharmacologic responses, including psychostimulatory activity by modulation of adenosinergic and dopaminergic pathways. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, theacrine increased energy, concentration, and mood, while reducing fatigue. Because caffeine, a methylxanthine purine alkaloid, is frequently coadministered with theacrine, we sought to determine if a pharmacokinetic and/or pharmacodynamic interaction existed between theacrine and caffeine. Methods: Eight healthy adults received theacrine, as TeaCrine® (25 or 125 mg), caffeine (150 mg), or a combination of theacrine (125 mg) and caffeine (150 mg) in a randomized, double-blind crossover study. Blood samples were collected over a 24-hour period and analyzed by Liquid chromatrography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) for theacrine, caffeine, and paraxanthine. Pharmacodynamic response markers, heart rate and blood pressure, were recorded. Results: Theacrine pharmacokinetics was similar following administration of theacrine alone. Caffeine coadministration increased maximum plasma concentration and area under the curve of theacrine without altering theacrine half-life. Theacrine had no impact on caffeine or paraxanthine pharmacokinetics. There was no difference between treatment groups with regard to heart rate or systolic/diastolic blood pressure. Conclusions: Coadministration of theacrine and caffeine results in a clinically significant pharmacokinetic interaction, viz., increased theacrine exposure. Enhanced oral bioavailability is the most likely mechanism by which caffeine alters theacrine exposure. However, further studies examining the contribution of presystemic elimination mechanisms, for example, efflux transport and/or gut metabolism, to theacrine bioavailability are needed to confirm the exact mechanism(s). Hemodynamic parameters were unaltered despite the pharmacokinetic interaction, suggesting that coadministration of caffeine and theacrine is safe at the doses administered.

Keywords: caffeine; pharmacokinetics; theacrine.