, Volume 129, Issue 1, pp 1-14

Behavioral and physiological effects of xanthines in nonhuman primates

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Abstract

 Caffeine and related xanthines can have significant behavioral effects on measures of locomotor activity, schedule-controlled behavior, drug self-administration, and learning and memory. Xanthines also produce numerous physiological effects including positive inotropic and chronotropic effects on the heart, decreased airway resistance in the lung, and respiratory stimulation. Due to the widespread use of xanthines as constituents of food and beverages and as therapeutic drugs, identification of mechanisms that mediate their pharmacological effects has considerable relevance for drug development and therapeutics. Two primary mechanisms involving the cyclic nucleotide system have been implicated as the bases for the effects of xanthines in the CNS. Many xanthines bind to specific adenosine recognition sites and block the actions of adenosine. Xanthines also inhibit cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases, the enzymes responsible for the hydrolytic inactivation of cyclic AMP and cyclic GMP. Recent research in nonhuman primates has characterized the behavioral, respiratory and cardiovascular effects of a number of xanthines and related drugs differing in affinity at different subtypes of adenosine receptors and in capacity to inhibit different molecular forms of PDE. The behavioral-stimulant effects of xanthines appear to be mediated principally by their adenosine-antagonist actions and may be limited by PDE inhibition. The respiratory-stimulant and cardiac effects of xanthines, on the other hand, appear to be linked more closely to their PDE- inhibiting actions than to adenosine antagonism. Converging lines of evidence suggest that adenosine A2 and cAMP-specific (possibly type IV) PDE mechanisms play especially prominent roles in mediating the behavioral and physiological effects of xanthines in nonhuman primates.

Received: 6 March 1996 / Final version: 11 September 1996