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Caffeine Genetics

September 7, 2016

A gene variant makes some people feel a buzz from very little caffeine.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Coffee drinking genes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Some people need at least three cups of coffee just to get their day going while others can’t handle much caffeine at all. Now, researchers have discovered that having a variant of a gene called PDSS2 makes them more sensitive to caffeine.

NICOLA PIRASTU (University of Edinburgh):

These people are drinking less coffee but they probably don’t know why.

HIRSHON:

And University of Edinburgh geneticist Nicola Pirastu says that having two copies of the gene variant amounts to about two fewer cups of coffee per day.

PIRASTU:

So when we looked at the function of this gene it’s basically inhibiting the caffeine metabolism pathways, affecting the speed at which cafeine is metabolized.

HIRSHON:

Pirastu says when caffeine sticks around in the body, people feel less of an urge to consume more of it. He and his colleagues write in Scientific Reports that the gene variant may also affect the breakdown of certain medications. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

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Story by Susanne Bard