Neuroprotection by caffeine and adenosine A2A receptor blockade of β-amyloid neurotoxicity


Center for Neuroscience of Coimbra, Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, 3004-504 Coimbra, Portugal; E-mail:


Adenosine is a neuromodulator in the nervous system and it has recently been observed that pharmacological blockade or gene disruption of adenosine A2A receptors confers neuroprotection under different neurotoxic situations in the brain. We now observed that coapplication of either caffeine (1–25 μM) or the selective A2A receptor antagonist, 4-(2-[7-amino-2(2-furyl)(1,2,4)triazolo (2,3-a)(1,3,5)triazin-5-ylamino]ethyl)phenol (ZM 241385, 50 nM), but not the A receptor antagonist, 8-cyclopentyltheophylline (200 nM), prevented the neuronal cell death caused by exposure of rat cultured cerebellar granule neurons to fragment 25–35 of β-amyloid protein (25 μM for 48 h), that by itself caused a near three-fold increase of propidium iodide-labeled cells. This constitutes the first in vitro evidence to suggest that adenosine A2A receptors may be the molecular target responsible for the observed beneficial effects of caffeine consumption in the development of Alzheimer's disease.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2003) 138, 1207–1209. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0705185