Caffeine consumption causes significant physiologic effects due to its antagonism of adenosine receptors. The A1 adenosine receptor is coupled in an inhibitory manner to adenylate cyclase. To study the effects of chronic caffeine ingestion, rats were provided with 0.1% caffeine drinking solution for 28 d. The A1 adenosine receptor agonist radioligand [3H]phenylisopropyladenosine identifies two affinity states in control rat cerebral cortex membranes with a high affinity dissociation constant (KH) of 0.40 +/- 0.08 nM and low affinity dissociation constant (KL) of 13.7 +/- 3.9 nM, with 33% of the receptors in the high affinity state. In membranes from caffeine-treated animals, all of the A1 receptors are shifted to the high affinity state with a dissociation constant (KD) of 0.59 +/- 0.06 nM. Guanylyl-imidodiphosphate (10(-4) M) decreases binding by 43% in control membrane, with no change in KH or KL, while membrane binding in caffeine-treated animals decreases by 45% with a threefold shift in KD to 1.5 +/- 0.3 nM. Concomitant with the enhanced high affinity A1 receptor state and increased sensitivity to guanine nucleotides, membranes from treated animals show a 35% enhancement in (-)-N6-(R-phenylisopropyl)adenosine-mediated inhibition of adenylate cyclase compared with controls (P less than 0.03). Photoaffinity crosslinking the receptors with [125I]N6-2-(3-iodo-4-aminophenyl)ethyladenosine reveals that A1 receptors from both groups migrate as Mr 38,000 proteins. beta-adrenergic receptor binding with [125I]iodocyanopindolol shows a decrease in the number of beta-receptors from 233 +/- 7 fmol/mg protein in control membranes to 190 +/- 10 fmol/mg protein in treated membranes (P = 0.01). These data indicate that the adenosine receptor antagonist, caffeine, induces a compensatory sensitization of the A1 receptor-adenylate cyclase system and downregulation of beta-adrenergic receptors, and provides a molecular mechanism for the caffeine withdrawal syndrome.
R M Green, G L Stiles