Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee?

It seems to work for rats...

Wonderful World of Rats

Is a sniff as good as a cup of coffee?

11 June 2008
From New Scientist Print Edition.

DRINKING a cup of coffee can wake you up, but perhaps just a whiff of Java is enough to reverse the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain.

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 - GIR, involved in neuro-endocrine control, and NFGR, thought to control oxidative stress (Seo et al., 2008).

We don't know if the same genes are suppressed in sleep-deprived humans, nor whether we would feel tired if they were [NOTE: but that won't stop us from wild speculation], but many of these genes do have human equivalents. So the team says gene suppression may help explain why people feel bad when they haven't had enough sleep - and that gene reactivation could explain why people love the smell of coffee. [NOTE: did the team inhale a little too much coffee bean aroma?]

Next the team hopes to identify the molecules in coffee aroma that affect gene expression. They suggest pumping them into factories to help revive tired workers who can't sip coffee while operating machinery.
Think of the new marketing possibilities!


Seo HS, Hirano M, Shibato J, Rakwal R, Hwang IK, Masuo Y. (2008). Effects of Coffee Bean Aroma on the Rat Brain Stressed by Sleep Deprivation: A Selected Transcript- and 2D Gel-Based Proteome Analysis. J Agric Food Chem. Jun 3. [Epub ahead of print]

The aim of this study was 2-fold: (i) to demonstrate influences of roasted coffee bean aroma on rat brain functions by using the transcriptomics and proteomics approaches and (ii) to evaluate the impact of roasted coffee bean aroma on stress induced by sleep deprivation. The aroma of the roasted coffee beans was administered to four groups of adult male Wistar rats: 1, control group; 2, 24 h sleep deprivation-induced stress group (the stress group); 3, coffee aroma-exposed group without stress (the coffee group); and 4, the stress with coffee aroma group (the stress with coffee group). Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis of some known genes responsive to aroma or stress was performed using total RNA from these four groups. A total of 17 selected genes of the coffee were differently expressed over the control. Additionally, the expression levels of 13 genes were different between the stress group and the stress with coffee group: Up-regulation was found for 11 genes, and down-regulation was seen for two genes in the stress with coffee group. We also looked to changes in protein profiles in these four samples using two-dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis; 25 differently expressed gel spots were detected on 2D gels stained by silver nitrate. Out of these, a total of nine proteins were identified by mass spectrometry. Identified proteins belonged to five functional categories: antioxidant; protein fate; cell rescue, defense, and virulence; cellular communication/signal transduction mechanism; and energy metabolism. Among the differentially expressed genes and proteins between the stress and the stress with coffee group, NGFR, trkC, GIR, thiol-specific antioxidant protein, and heat shock 70 kDa protein 5 are known to have antioxidant or antistress functions. In conclusion, the roasted coffee bean aroma changes the mRNA and protein expression levels of the rat brain, providing for the first time clues to the potential antioxidant or stress relaxation activities of the coffee bean aroma.

Simulating the Coffee Drinker’s Nose

Is Scratch ‘n Sniff Starbucks in our future?

No industry focuses as much on olfactory marketing as the coffee business...

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At June 13, 2008 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all know we regular coffee drinkers perk up at just the sight and smell of coffee, but one assumes this is "just" an expectation effect, a placebo-type affect that would eventually extinguish if no actual caffein accompanied the aroma.

So: the smell affects the brain of the sleep deprive rats. But is this "just expectation" and thus "not real" -- we'd have to know if the rats had been accustomed to ingesting/smelling coffee. I assume the article would say that the rats had prior experience.

Neurocritic, you seem pretty dismissive of this finding, why? (Because no data on humans exists...?)

Many people need to reduce coffee intake for myriad health reason, such as restoring battered gastrointestinal function. Thus its very important if spending time smelling coffee could reduce the amount one needs to drink.

At June 13, 2008 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know the coffee is not work for most night shift nurses when they are used to it.

At June 13, 2008 9:05 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

BAP - I'm not dismissive of this finding in rats, just critical of the immediate extrapolation to humans without adequate information. As the New Scientist article says,

We don't know if the same genes are suppressed in sleep-deprived humans, nor whether we would feel tired if they were...

The effect in rats does not appear to be "expectation." According to the Methods, the rats did not have prior experience with coffee aroma. They were exposed to one of the four conditions for 24 hrs, then their brains were removed.

Anonymous - I've heard the same thing about coffee-drinking in other countries (e.g., Sweden), that some people drink coffee before bedtime and go to sleep right away.

The authors conclude the paper with the following statements:

When we stay up all night, is it better for us to smell coffee bean aroma than to drink coffee, or would any other food-related odor produce similar effects? Further studies are needed for not only obtaining the correct answer for this question but also identifying the potential volatile compounds for this beneficial effect.

At August 21, 2016 10:51 PM, Blogger javajerk said...

So basically, I have recently stopped narcotics and benzos, and have went 3 days without coffee. The caffeine seals me up, along with bad dreams. I'm on about day 6. I know it's hard enough to sleep, but when my husband gets up for wotk, I can have only been asleep for an hour after tossing and turning, and he ends up waking me up. Thankfully at least I know that the smell alone is enough to wake me. So I don't mean to get off topic, but I do need to know your opinion. I have recently quit benzos and opiates, and I am not eating or sleeping much at all. Am I doing this safely? I have been in this medication since 2003. I have tried to quit numerous times with no luck. This time has been successful, just very sleep deprived individual. Any ideas? Should I lay down the coffee as well?

At August 21, 2016 10:56 PM, Blogger javajerk said...

Hello, I had a few questions. I would like to say first and foremost that I am super happy that I Google everything! It seems that you are very open minded and give good advice. I'm hoping you can help. I have recently stopped taking opiates and benzos and I have been in them for over 20 years. I have also have up cigarettes. I have stopped everything, including eating good or sleeping. I toss and turn all night and I can only have been asleep for an hour, if that, and the smell of coffee wakes me up. I have been extremely ill, and not hungry. Am I doing all of this safely? Also, can this hurt me? Should I just go ahead and give up the coffee too?


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