Caffeine, the most widely used psychoactive compound, is an adenosine receptor antagonist. It promotes wakefulness by blocking adenosineA2A receptors (A2ARs) in the brain, but the specific neurons on which caffeine acts to produce arousal have not been identified. Using selective gene deletion strategies based on the Cre/loxP technology in mice and focal RNA interference to silence the expression of A2ARs in rats by local infection with adeno-associated virus carrying short-hairpin RNA, we report that theA2ARs in the shell region of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) are responsible for the effect of caffeine on wakefulness. Caffeine-induced arousal was not affected in rats when A2ARs were focally removed from the NAc core or other A2AR-positive areas of the basal ganglia. Our observations suggest that caffeine promotes arousal by activating pathways that traditionally have been associated with motivational and motor responses in the brain.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes