Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Smelling the Coffee

Do you need that morning cup of coffee to stimulate your brain and get you going? Does the warm aroma of brewing coffee draw you from your bed? There may be a good reason for the old saying "wake up and smell the coffee". Scientists now report that simply inhaling the aroma of coffee alters activity of some genes in the brain.

Experiments with laboratory rats showed that when exposed to coffee aroma, changes in the activity and expression of genes and protiens helped reduce the stress of sleep derivation.

As odor deals with sense and emotion in the brain, it was reasoned that by examining molecular (mRNA expression and protein levels)responses in the brain of rat exposed to coffee bean aroma, we might get insight on the aroma-induced changes associated with brain function. Especially, as coffee is also considered a stress
reliever , we incorporated a stress condition via sleep
deprivation of 24 h in our experimental design with or without the presence of coffee bean aroma to see whether coffee can counteract the effects of stress at the level of gene/protein expression.

Results from the present study demonstrate the influence of coffee bean aroma on the rat’s brain functions at both genome and proteome levels, and the paper discusses these differentially expressed genes and proteins. This study is the first effort to elucidate the effects of coffee bean aroma on the sleep deprivation-induced stress of the rat brain.

We all know that cup of coffee gives us the jolt we need to overcome our natural inclinations to sleep when tired, and now there's proof that just smelling the coffee is enough to help us "wake up".

The study can be found here