Caffeine induces neurobehavioral effects through modulating neurotransmitters

Saudi Pharm J. 2020 Apr;28(4):445-451. doi: 10.1016/j.jsps.2020.02.005. Epub 2020 Feb 17.


Evidence demonstrates that chronic caffeine exposure, primarily through consumption of coffee or tea, leads to increased alertness and anxiety. Preclinical and clinical studies showed that caffeine induced beneficial effects on mood and cognition. Other studies using molecular techniques have reported that caffeine exhibited neuroprotective effects in animal models by protecting dopaminergic neurons. Moreover, caffeine interacts with dopaminergic system, which leads to improvements in neurobehavioral measures in animal models of depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Glutamatergic receptors have been found to be involved on the neurobiological effects of caffeine. Additionally, caffeine has been found to suppress the inhibitory (GABAergic) activity and modulate GABA receptors. Studies have also found that modulating these neurotransmitters leads to neurobehavioral effects. The linkage between the modulatory role of caffeine on neurotransmitters and neurobehavioral effects has not been fully discussed. The purpose of this review is to discuss in detail the role of neurotransmitters in the effects of caffeine on neurobehavioral disorders.

Keywords: Caffeine; Dopamine; GABA; Glutamate; Neurobehavioral effects; Neurotransmitters.

Publication types

  • Review