Just Smelling the Coffee Bean Can Wake Up Genes

There are people who perk up in the morning at just the smell of fresh-brewed coffee.

Han-Seok Seo, a SNU student in doctoral program in Food and Nutrition, proved that just smelling the coffee bean can wake up genes.

Seo's paper"Effects of Coffee Bean Aroman on the Rat Brain Stressed by Sleep Deprivation: A Selected Transcript - and 2D Gel - Based Proteome Analysis" was published on Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Seo's team exposed stressed-out rats that had been deprived of sleep to coffee bean aroma and then evaluated the effects by performing genetic and protein analyses on brain tissue. He compared the results with tests on other rats, including some that were sleep deprived but not exposed to coffee.

Seo found that the expression levels of 13 selected genes were different between the stress-with-coffee rats and the stress-only animals. With 11 of the genes, levels were higher for the stress-with-coffee group; with the other two the levels were lower.

Since proteins are among the products of gene expression, the researchers also identified proteins that were differentially expressed between the two groups of rats. For instance, one protein known to have an antioxidant function had a higher expression level among the stress-with-coffee group.

Seo says that the study is a first step toward understanding the effects of coffee aroma. 

Seo's discovery was reported on the New York Times, June 17th, 2008.

June 19, 2008
SNU PR Office