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Caffeine Cuts Male Mating Success

Genescient study suggests that, when long-term effects are considered, two commonly ingested stimulants are not created equal. The study compares the effects of two stimulants and two sedatives.

PLoS ONEIrvine, CA, August 19, 2009 – What long-term effect does your daily cup of “morning Joe” have on your body?  In a study just published in PLoS One scientists at Genescient Corporation, a California biotechnology company, sought to answer that question.  The study evaluated the long-term health effects of two stimulants — coffee and chocolate — and two sedatives — valproic acid and lithium.

Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed drugs in the world.  It is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, colas and, more recently, “high-energy” drinks.  A Johns Hopkins University study on caffeine stated that “in North America, 80-90% of adults report regular use of caffeine.”  Most consumers of caffeine generally take it to increase their alertness and wakefulness.  Genescient scientists sought to determine  whether this increased wakefulness is accompanied by enhanced performance, and whether caffeine had any long-term health benefits.

Any lifelong human study is complicated by lifestyle choices, such as exercise and alcohol consumption, or functional demands, such as late-night driving.   To avoid the uncertainty introduced by these external factors, Genescient opted to use the well-studied Drosophila melanogaster, the laboratory fruit fly, as its model organism.  The tests measured the long-term functional effects of caffeine on both survival and reproductive functions throughout adult life.

When people consume coffee, they generally feel “up” and “ready to go.”  But is this effect a subjective illusion?  Consider mating; one of the most demanding things that a male Drosophila ever does.  It was no surprise to scientists that lithium depressed male mating success; lithium is known to suppress activity.  Surprisingly, caffeine also consistently impaired mating success in Genescient’s experiments.  By contrast, at normal doses theobromine (the chief stimulant in chocolate) was benign.  Worse still, caffeine impaired survival and female reproduction.  Again, theobromine proved relatively benign for survival and reproduction.

Lest they be tempted to celebrate, chocolate lovers should be aware that chocolate also contains caffeine.  Still, consumption of chocolate should provide the stimulative effects of theobromine without the negative effect of high doses of caffeine.  The test results show that the less caffeine the model animals consumed, the better they did.

While Drosophila aren’t people, and the results obtained in model animals may not necessarily carry over to humans, many of the important developmental and metabolic pathways are shared by both species.  With this in mind, Genescient’s results suggest that caffeine consumers might want to think twice before drinking that 4th cup of coffee or loading up on energy drinks for that all-night study session.

Interested readers can access the complete results online at:

About Genescient Corporation:

Genescient Corporation is a California systems biology company using advanced information technology to study the genomics of aging and age-associated disease. Genescient applies 21st century genomic technology to identify, screen and develop benign therapeutic substances for the treatment of the chronic diseases of aging including cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases.   Genescient does not now market, produce, or develop therapeutics containing any of the substances tested in the publication described in this press release.


Damian Crowe, CEO
Genescient Corporation
+1 949-333-0058 x3305


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