A new study, published in the journal of Molecular Psychiatry, has explained why some people are more impacted by coffee than others. The Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers explained why caffeine has different effects on people and identified six genetic variants.
The findings suggest that people naturally modulate their coffee intake to experience the optimal effects exerted by caffeine and that the strongest genetic factors linked to increased coffee intake likely work by directly increasing caffeine metabolism.
“Coffee and caffeine have been linked to beneficial and adverse health effects. Our findings may allow us to identify subgroups of people most likely to benefit from increasing or decreasing coffee consumption for optimal health,” said Marilyn Cornelis, research associate in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study.
Researchers conducted a genetic analysis of more than 120,000 regular coffee drinkers of European and African American ancestry. They identified two variants that mapped to genes involved in caffeine metabolism, POR and ABCG2 (two others, AHR and CYP1A2 had been identified previously). Two variants were identified near genes BDNF and SLC6A4 that potentially influence the rewarding effects of caffeine. Two others genes involved in the glucose and lipd metabolism were newlydientified and had not been previously linked to the metabolism or neurological effects of coffee. These genes were near the GCKR and MLXIP genes.
“The new candidate genes are not the ones we have focused on in the past, so this is an important step forward in coffee research,” said Cornelis.
“Like previous genetic analyses of smoking and alcohol consumption, this research serves as an example of how genetics can influence some types of habitual behavior,” said Daniel Chasman, associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the study’s senior author.
M C Cornelis, D I Chasman et al. Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies six novel loci associated with habitual coffee consumption. Molecular Psychiatry, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2014.107