A gene which may be involved in regulating coffee consumption has been identified in research published online in Scientific Reports this week. The study suggests that the gene PDSS2 may regulate the expression of genes linked to caffeine metabolism.
Nicola Pirastu and colleagues conducted a genome wide association study involving participants from two Italian populations - 370 individuals from a small village in southern Italy and 843 from six villages in in North-Eastern Italy. Participants were also asked how much coffee they consumed as measured by the number of cups per day. The experiment was then replicated using an independent cohort of 1731 participants from the Netherlands. In their analysis, the authors found an association between expression of the PDSS2 gene and coffee consumption and that the two were inversely correlated. They suggest that higher levels of the protein produced by the PDSS2 gene would inhibit the expression of genes involved in the caffeine metabolism pathway, thus inhibiting caffeine degradation.
The authors note that further studies with larger numbers of participants will be needed to confirm their findings and to clarify the biological mechanism which links PDSS2 and coffee consumption.