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Caffeine-induced Plasticity of Grey Matter Volume in Healthy Brains: A placebo-controlled multimodal within-subject study

By Yu-Shiuan Lin, Janine Weibel, Hans-Peter Landolt, F. Santini, M. Meyer, Stefan Borgwardt, Christian Cajochen, Carolin F. Reichert

Posted 16 Oct 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/804047

Disturbed sleep homeostatic states have been found to alter neuronal homeostasis and reduce grey matter (GM) volume. Caffeine intake that interferes with sleep homeostasis through antagonizing adenosine receptors can impair hippocampal synaptic strength, neurogenesis, as well as memory and learning in rats. In this study, reduced medial temporal GM volume was observed after daily caffeine intake in humans (3 x 150 mg x 10 days compared to 10-day placebo administration). The potential bias from reduced cerebral blood flow was controlled, and the GM reduction was independent of the change in sleep pressure. A decrease in working memory during daily caffeine intake was observed, albeit no association with the magnitude of GM changes. The findings indicate that daily caffeine intake might induce rapid cerebral plasticity and be detrimental for higher order cognitive performance in the long run. They may call into question whether the neuroprotective effects of caffeine found in acute or low dose administration in animals are generalizable onto the daily usage in humans.

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