CAF­FEINE COM­BATS STRESS

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re­veal the molec­u­lar mech­a­nism as to how cof­fee and tea re­duce feel­ings of stress. Many cof­fee and tea drinkers claim that drink­ing these bev­er­ages ap­pears to have a calm­ing ef­fect, per­haps as a re­sult of the as­so­ci­ated men­tal break or so­cial­iza­tion with oth­ers. Manuella P. Kaster, from the Univer­sity of Coim­bra (Por­tu­gal), and col­leagues have re­vealed a molec­u­lar mech­a­nism by which caf­feine may ex­ert a stress-re­duc­ing ef­fect. The re­searchers ad­min­is­tered a caf­feinated bev­er­age to lab mice, and then ex­posed the an­i­mals to a stress­ful en­vi­ron­ment. The team ob­served that brain lev­els of adeno­sine A2A re­cep­tors (A2AR) rose. Fur­ther, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors found that block­ing A2AR ac­tiv­ity via drugs or by re­mov­ing the gene for A2AR caused the same ef­fect as giv­ing the mice caf­feine. Ob­serv­ing a re­duc­tion in both synap­tic plas­tic­ity and pro­tein den­sity, the study au­thors sub­mit that: “These re­sults her­ald a key role for synap­tic [adeno­sine A2A re­cep­tors] in the con­trol of chronic stress-in­duced mod­i­fi­ca­tions and sug­gest [adeno­sine A2A re­cep­tors] as can­di­date tar­gets to al­le­vi­ate the con­se­quences of chronic stress on brain func­tion.” In non­sci­en­tific terms caf­feine may ac­tu­ally help us com­bat stress, con­trary to many pre­vi­ous thoughts that caf­feine had the op­po­site ef­fect.

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