Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Coffee contains potent opiate receptor binding activity

Abstract

Opiate receptor-active peptide fragments (exorphins) have been identified recently in casein1 and gluten2 hydrolysates, and morphine has been found in bovine and human milk3. To determine whether similar peptides or alkaloids occur in other foodstuffs, we have screened potential sources using a rat brain homogenate assay to detect opiate receptor activity. We report here that instant coffee powders from a variety of manufacturers compete with tiitiated naloxone for binding to opiate receptors in the rat brain membrane preparations, with no significant difference between normal and decaffeinated coffee. The receptor binding activity resembles that seen with opiate antagonists, in that there was no change in the half-maximal effective dose (ED50) in the presence of 100 mM Na+; on bioassay, the activity was similarly shown to be antagonistic and specific for opiate-induced inhibition of twitch. Preliminary characterization of the activity reveals that it has a molecular weight (MW) in the range 1,000–3,500, is heat-stable, ether-extractable, not modified by enzymatic digestion with papain, and clearly separable from caffeine and morphine on TLC. As its concentration in an average cup of coffee is five times the ED50, these data suggest that drinking coffee may be followed by effects mediated via opiate receptors, as well as effects of caffeine.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Chang, K.-J., Killian, A., Hazum, E., Cuatrecasas, P., Chang, J.-K. Science 212, 75–77 (1981).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Zioudrou, C., Streaty, R. A. & Klee, W. A., J. biol. Chem. 254, 2446–2449 (1979).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Hazum, E., Sabatka, J. J., Chang, K.-J., Brent, D. A. & Findlay, J. W. A., Science 213, 1010–1012 (1981).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Pert, C. B. & Snyder, S. H. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 70, 2243–2247 (1978).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Pert, C. B., Pasternak, G., & Snyder, S. H. Science 182, 1359–1361 (1973).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Arnold, M. A., Carr, D. B., Togasaki, D. M., Dian, M. C., & Martin, J. B. Life Sci. 31, 1017–1024 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Snyder, S. H., Katims, J. J., Annau, Z., Bruns, R. F., & Daly, J. W., Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 78, 3260–3264 (1981).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Kosterlitz, H. W., Lydon, R. J. & Watt, A., Br. J. Pharmac. 39, 398–413 (1970).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Boublik, J., Quinn, M., Clements, J. et al. Coffee contains potent opiate receptor binding activity. Nature 301, 246–248 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1038/301246a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing