Since caffeine is a widely used substance, especially by college age students, this case on the effects of caffeine on the human body serves as a real-world connection to many students’ lives. The case is divided into sections covering background information on caffeine, cell biology and signal transduction, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular effects, and addiction/withdrawal. The case was designed so that a section can be used alone or in combination with other sections, as dictated by topic/curriculum needs. It would be appropriate for use in a variety of science and health related courses, including anatomy and physiology, disease related courses, genetics, cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and neuroscience.
Identify sources of caffeine in foods and drinks.
Describe the chemical structure of caffeine and general physiological effects of caffeine consumption.
Explain which molecules in the nervous system interact with caffeine.
Determine the relationship between caffeine consumption and the incidence of Parkinson’s disease.
Hypothesize biological explanations for the correlation between caffeine and Parkinson’s.
Explain the molecular basis of changes in blood pressure in response to caffeine.
Determine potential outcomes of interactions between caffeine and catecholamine signaling pathways.
Identify symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. Differentiate between drug dependence and drug addiction, and categorize caffeine into one of these states.
Explain how adenosine and dopamine contribute to caffeine dependence or addiction.