A methylxanthine naturally occurring in some beverages and also used as a pharmacological agent. Caffeine's most notable pharmacological effect is as a central nervous system stimulant, increasing alertness and producing agitation. It also relaxes smooth muscle, stimulates cardiac muscle, stimulates diuresis, and appears to be useful in the treatment of some types of headache. Several cellular actions of caffeine have been observed, but it is not entirely clear how each contributes to its pharmacological profile. Among the most important are inhibition of cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases, antagonism of adenosine receptors, and modulation of intracellular calcium handling. [PubChem]
For management of fatigue, orthostatic hypotension, and for the short term treatment of apnea of prematurity in infants.
Caffeine, a naturally occurring xanthine derivative like theobromine and the bronchodilator theophylline, is used as a CNS stimulant, mild diuretic, and respiratory stimulant (in neonates with apnea of prematurity). Often combined with analgesics or with ergot alkaloids, caffeine is used to treat migraine and other headache types. Over the counter, caffeine is available to treat drowsiness or mild water-weight gain.
Mechanism of action
Caffeine stimulates medullary, vagal, vasomotor, and respiratory centers, promoting bradycardia, vasoconstriction, and increased respiratory rate. This action was previously believed to be due primarily to increased intracellular cyclic 3′,5′-adenosine monophosphate (cyclic AMP) following inhibition of phosphodiesterase, the enzyme that degrades cyclic AMP. It is now thought that xanthines such as caffeine act as antagonists at adenosine-receptors within the plasma membrane of virtually every cell. As adenosine acts as an autocoid, inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters from presynaptic sites but augmenting the actions of norepinephrine or angiotensin, antagonism of adenosine receptors promotes neurotransmitter release. This explains the stimulatory effects of caffeine. Blockade of the adenosine A1 receptor in the heart leads to the accelerated, pronounced "pounding" of the heart upon caffeine intake.