Caffeine Part 2: Adenosine and me.

Caffeine Part 2: Adenosine and me.

Welcome back to another exciting article by yours truly! If you haven’t read the first part of my caffeine series, you can view it here.

In this part, I will cover how this magnificent miracle supplement works.

First, let me explain the role of Adenosine.  “I don’t give a crap about that, tell me about caffeine!” you say.

Shut up and read damnit.

Alrighty, let’s do the thing!

Adenosine is a type of molecule that has multiple roles in the body, but we will focus on how it relates to caffeine usage.  Throughout the day, your body uses its “energy currency” ATP.  Basically, ATP is used for everything.  Whether it is running, working, doing calculus or fending off polar bears, ATP will be used.  Adenosine is attached to ATP, and as ATP is used, Adenosine will accumulate within our brain. As it accumulates and attaches to certain receptors, it will promote sleepiness.

Oh!  On a bit of a side note, I love the site that I linked previously because they will explain each article that they have listed in a way beginners can understand, all the way to those who are more advanced.  Check it out! Here’s the link again.

So why did I go into detail on Adenosine?  Because it is key to understanding exactly how Caffeine works in the brain.  What caffeine will do, after ingested, is once it begins circulating within our bodies, it will go into the brain and occupy the receptors that adenosine attaches to.  It will basically prevent Adenosine from attaching to those receptors, thus promoting alertness and wakefulness.  Here’s a detailed chart to help you visualize this information:

Ah, yes. Very scientific.


Caffeine is metabolized by a group of enzymes (Enzymes speed certain processes), but the majority of it is through two specific enzymes, and the rate at which it is metabolized varies from individual to individual.  This is why some are much more sensitive to caffeine, compared to others.  So those who become an eruption of energy whenever they come in to contact with a cup of coffee will usually have less of the enzymes necessary to metabolize caffeine.  Those who can shotgun an energy drink, down a pot of coffee and then pass out will usually have more of the enzymes.  These enzymes, called the CYP1A1/2 enzymes(Section 2.4), are primarily what determines how rapidly caffeine is metabolized.

“Okay, so this is cool and stuff, but why don’t I still feel all euphoric and shit when I drink coffee now? I drink a gallon of coffee mixed with kerosene a day and I feel nothing!”

Kerosene? What the fu-?A woman asking for some kerosense with her caffeine.

Alright, whatever, I’ll answer that.

Like I mentioned in the first part of caffeine, as most are aware, the more consistently you consume caffeine the quicker a tolerance develops.  This is called an insurmountable tolerance, which means that it will get to a point where you are not affected the same, and taking more will not change that.  It can still stave off sleep, but nothing more.

So, the reason you felt so euphoric when you consumed your first cup of joe, is because of an increase in neurotransmitters such as dopamine, adrenaline, serotonin, and noradrenaline (norepinephrine). One of the receptors that caffeine attaches to becomes desensitized to the effects and will no longer give you all that euphoria you were experiencing initially, and the other fun benefits are lessened as well.  That receptor, called the A2a receptor, is what regulates that.

Science!  Yay!

I will end it there, and continue on our adventure at a later date.

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