Caffeine Modulates Food Intake Depending on the Context That Gives Access to Food: Comparison With Dopamine Depletion

Correa, Mercè; SanMiguel, Noemí; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Carratalá-Ros, Carla; Olivares-García, Régulo and Salamone, John D. (2018). Caffeine Modulates Food Intake Depending on the Context That Gives Access to Food: Comparison With Dopamine Depletion. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9, article no. 411.



Caffeine is a methylxanthine consumed in different contexts to potentiate alertness and reduce fatigue. However, caffeine can induce anxiety at high doses. Caffeine is also a minor psychostimulant that seems to act as an appetite suppressant, but there are also reports indicating that it could stimulate appetite. Dopamine also is involved in food motivation and in behavioral activation. In the present series of experiments, we evaluated the effects of acute administration of caffeine on food consumption under different access conditions. CD1 male adult mice had access to highly palatable food (50% sucrose) in a restricted but habitual context, under continuous or intermittent access as well as under anxiogenic, or effortful conditions. Caffeine (2.5-20.0 mg/kg) increased intake at the highest dose under familiar continuous and intermittent access. However, this high dose reduced food intake in the dark-light paradigm. In contrast, a dopamine-depleting agent, tetrabenazine (TBZ; 1.0-8.0 mg/kg) did not affect food intake in any of those experimental conditions. In the T-maze-barrier task that evaluates seeking and taking of food under effortful conditions, caffeine (10.0 mg/kg) decreased latency to reach the food, but did not affect selection of the high-food density arm that required more effort, or the total amount of food consumed. In contrast, TBZ (4.0 mg/kg) reduced selection of the high food density arm with the barrier, thus affecting amount of food consumed. Interestingly, a small dose of caffeine (5.0 mg/kg) was able to reverse the anergia-inducing effects produced by TBZ in the T-maze. These results suggest that caffeine can potentiate or suppress food consumption depending on the context. Moreover, caffeine did not change appetite, and did not impair orientation toward food under effortful conditions, but it rather helped to achieve the goal by improving speed and by reversing performance to normal levels when fatigue was induced by dopamine depletion.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions