Caffeine modulates voluntary alcohol intake in mice depending on the access conditions: Involvement of adenosine receptors and the role of individual differences

SanMiguel, N; Lopez-Cruz, L.; Müller, C.E.; Salamone, J.D. and Correa, M. (2019). Caffeine modulates voluntary alcohol intake in mice depending on the access conditions: Involvement of adenosine receptors and the role of individual differences. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 186, article no. 172789.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2019.172789

Abstract

Caffeine is the most consumed psychoactive stimulant and the main active ingredient of energy drinks. Epidemiology studies have shown a positive correlation between the consumption of energy drinks and that of ethanol. The popular belief is that caffeine antagonizes the intoxicating effects of alcohol. Both drugs act on the adenosine system but have opposite effects. Caffeine is a methylxanthine that acts as a nonselective adenosine receptor antagonist, binding to A1 and A2A receptor subtypes. In contrast, ethanol increases extracellular adenosinergic tone. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of a broad range of doses of caffeine and of selective adenosine A1 and A2A receptor antagonists on voluntary ethanol intake under different ethanol access conditions. C57BL/6 J male mice had access to ethanol (10% w/v) under different conditions: restricted (2 h in the dark), unrestricted (24 h access), or after 4 days of alcohol removal following several periods of unrestricted access. Mice reduced ethanol intake in the restricted access condition after receiving caffeine (20.0 mg/kg), or theophylline (20.0 mg/kg), another methylxanthine. Selective A1 and A2A adenosine receptor antagonists, or their combination, did not have any effect. However, under unrestricted access conditions caffeine and the adenosine A2A receptor antagonist increased ethanol intake. After splitting animals into high, moderate and low ethanol consumers, caffeine (2.5-20.0 mg/kg) significantly increased ethanol consumption in moderate consumers with no effect on low or high consumers. In addition, after reintroducing ethanol access, caffeine (5.0 mg/kg) decreased ethanol consumption among moderate consumers. Thus, caffeine produced different effects on ethanol intake depending on the access condition and the baseline consumption of ethanol.

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