Wake up, smell the coffee

Friday, 13 June, 2008

A whiff of coffee may be just as reinvigorating as drinking it, if tests on sleep deprived mice are anything to go by.

A team led by Yoshinori Masuo at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan, deprived rats of sleep for a day. When they examined their brains they found reduced levels of mRNA – messenger molecules that indicate when a gene is being expressed – for 11 genes important to brain function. When the rats were exposed to the aroma of coffee, the mRNA for nine of the genes was restored to near normal levels, and pushed to above normal levels for two.

And the… good news as a result of this research?

If the actual reinvigorating molecule in coffee can be isolated, factory owners may be able to pump it through workplaces to keep staff refreshed and alert, especially those who are unable to leave their machines unattended… for a coffee break.

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