Caffeine Against Alzheimer’s Disease

 

Caffeine Has Positive Effect On Tau Deposits In Alzheimer’s

As part of a German-French research project, a team led by  Dr. Christa E. Müller from the University of Bonn and Dr. David Blum from the University of Lille was able to demonstrate for the first time that caffeine has a positive effect on tau deposits in Alzheimer’s disease. The two-years project was supported with 30,000 Euro from the non-profit Alzheimer Forschung Initiative e.V. (AFI) and with 50,000 Euro from the French Partner organization LECMA. The initial results were published in the online edition of the journal “Neurobiology of Aging.”

Tau deposits, along with beta-amyloid plaques, are among the characteristic features of Alzheimer’s disease. These protein deposits disrupt the communication of the nerve cells in the brain and contribute to their degeneration. Despite intensive research there is no drug available to date  which can prevent this detrimental process. Based on  the results of Prof. Dr. Christa Müller from the University of Bonn, Dr. David Blum and their team, a new class of drugs may now be developed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Caffeine, an adenosine receptor antagonist, blocks various receptors in the brain which are activated by adenosine. Initial results of the team of researchers had already indicated that the blockade of the adenosine receptor subtype A2A in particular could play an important role. Initially, Prof. Müller and her colleagues developed an A2A antagonist in ultrapure and water-soluble form (designated MSX-3). This compound had fewer adverse effects than caffeine since it only blocks only the A2A adenosine receptor subtype, and at the same time it is significantly more effective. Over several weeks, the researchers then treated genetically altered mice with the A2A antagonist. The mice had an altered tau protein which, without therapy, leads to the early development of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

In comparison to a control group which only received a placebo, the treated animals achieved significantly better results on memory tests. The A2A antagonist displayed positive effects in particular on spatial memory. Also, an amelioration of the pathogenic processes was demonstrated in the hippocampus, which is the site of memory in rodents.

“We have taken a good step forward,” says Prof. Müller. “The results of the study are truly promising, since we were able to show for the first time that A2A adenosine receptor antagonists actually have very positive effects in an animal model simulating hallmark characteristics and progression of  the disease. And the adverse effects are minor.”

The researchers now want to test the A2A antagonist in additional animal models. If the results are positive, a clinical study may follow. “Patience is required until A2A adenosine receptor antagonists are approved as new therapeutic agents for Alzheimer’s disease. But I am optimistic that clinical studies will be performed,” says Prof. Müller.

Attached files

  • Characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease: The tau protein. (c) Photo: Alzheimer Forschung Initiative e.V.

 

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Greater Coffee Intake Protects Against Type 2 Diabetes

Individuals who increased their daily consumption of coffee by more than a cup over time had an 11% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with people whose consumption stayed the same, according to a study in the journal Diabetologia. Individuals who reduced their coffee intake by more than a cup a day had a 17% higher risk of diabetes.

 

Smiley Face LatteNeed an excuse to drink yet another cup of coffee today?  A new study suggests that increasing coffee consumption may decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes.

The apparent relationship between coffee and type 2 diabetes is not new.  Previous studies have found that drinking a few cups or more each day may lower your risk – with each subsequent cup nudging up the benefit.

This most recent study, published in the journal Diabetologia, was more concerned with how changing coffee consumption – either increasing it or decreasing it over time – might affect your risk.

The conclusion: People who upped their consumption by more than a cup per day had an 11% lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared with people whose consumption held steady.  Decreasing coffee consumption by the same amount – more than a cup a day – was associated with a 17% increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

The data is based on an analysis of more than 120,000 health professionals already being followed observationally long term.  Researchers looked at the study participants’ coffee drinking habits across four years to reach their conclusions.

Just how much coffee each day provides a benefit?

“For type 2 diabetes, up to six cups per day is associated with lower risk,” said Shilpa Bhupathiraju, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead study author, citing previous research. “As long as coffee doesn’t give you tremors, doesn’t make you jittery, it is associated with a lot of health benefits.”

In the case of diabetes, the reasons behind the supposed protection conferred by coffee are not clear, but there are theories based on animal research.

One involves chemicals present in coffee – phenolic compounds and lignans – that may improve glucose metabolism, according to Bhupathiraju.  She added that coffee is rich in magnesium, which is also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Coffee drinking linked to longer life

Wait, though.  Before you scramble out to purchase your fourth latte of the day, it is important to note that the type of coffee matters.

Lattes and other types of specialty drinks – often laden with sugar – were not studied.  The type of coffee involved in this study tended to be a simple eight-ounce cup of black coffee containing about 100 milligrams of caffeine.

“People think of (increasing their intake) as going and drinking an extra blended drink,” said Bhupathiraju.  “We are not talking about ‘frappuchinos’ or lattes.  It’s black coffee with milk and sugar.”

Coffee good for you, but it’s OK to hold back

And while coffee may be associated with a reduction in some chronic diseases (not just diabetes, but cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and – according to a New England Journal of Medicine study – with a longer life, overall) scientists are still  reluctant to call coffee a panacea.

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy one more cup in the meantime.

 

Cardiologist Warns Coffee Heart Health Study Doesn’t Apply To Energy Drinks

The urge to be healthy is a powerful one. Marketers are well aware of this human drive and they often take full advantage of our willingness to try anything that offers a benefit. Nothing wrong with that. Just don’t forget to read the fine print.

By Ben Bouckley+, 27-Nov-2013

Cup of Coffee Sitting on Coffee BeansEminent cardiologist Gordon Tomaselli has warned against applying the results of a small study linking caffeinated coffee with better blood vessel function to other products such as energy drinks.

It often happens that if something is shown to be of benefit, others jump on the band wagon to claim those benefits by association. Remember all the fuss over red wine’s health benefits? Resveratrol, the substance from grape seeds was studied. Pretty soon everyone started believing red wine was a health food. (It can be in moderation).  This is  the point that is often missed in many cases involving food and nutritional supplements.

In the case of energy drinks, the beverage industry is looking for anything that offers a ray of hope to stave off increased regulation. Consumers require some perspective when the conversation turns to regulation.

Nine out of ten poisoning deaths in the U.S.  related to prescription drugs. In 2006, 275 adverse supplement reactions were reported. Of those 275 dietary supplements calls, 41% involved symptomatic exposures; and two-thirds were rated as probably or possibly related to supplement use. Eight adverse events required hospital admission. Sympathomimetic toxicity was most common, with caffeine products accounting for 47%.

So it’s not surprising that a small study showing that coffee may help perk up your blood vessels gets taken out of contextMonster Rehab and gets applied to an entire beverage category. After all, it’s caffeine and caffeine is good. Must be true that more caffeine is better.

It follows that products with caffeine or caffeine related substances would jump on the band wagon to tout the health benefits even if none exist.  Coffee is a natural substance with complex phytonutrients. Those substances work synergistically in our bodies to deliver the benefits to human health. Just because a product formulation includes healthy individual ingredients, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the consumer is getting the same health benefits those substances were proven to have.

 

 

High Blood Caffeine Levels in Older Adults Linked to Avoidance of Alzheimer’s Disease

Those cups of coffee that you drink every day to keep alert appear to have an extra perk – especially if you’re an older adult. A recent study monitoring the memory and thinking processes of people older than 65 found that all those with higher blood caffeine levels avoided the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the two-to-four years of study follow-up. Moreover, coffee appeared to be the major or only source of caffeine for these individuals.

Researchers from the University of South Florida (www.usf.edu) and the University of Miami (www.miami.edu) say the case control study provides the first direct evidence that caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed onset. Their findings will appear in the online version of an article to be published June 5 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, published by IOS Press (http://health.usf.edu/nocms/publicaffairs/now/pdfs/JAD111781.pdf). The collaborative study involved 124 people, ages 65 to 88, in Tampa and Miami.

“These intriguing results suggest that older adults with mild memory impairment who drink moderate levels of coffee — about 3 cups a day — will not convert to Alzheimer’s disease — or at least will experience a substantial delay before converting to Alzheimer’s,” said study lead author Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF College of Pharmacy and the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute. “The results from this study, along with our earlier studies in Alzheimer’s mice, are very consistent in indicating that moderate daily caffeine/coffee intake throughout adulthood should appreciably protect against Alzheimer’s disease later in life.”

The study shows this protection probably occurs even in older people with early signs of the disease, called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. Patients with MCI already experience some short-term memory loss and initial Alzheimer’s pathology in their brains. Each year, about 15 percent of MCI patients progress to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers focused on study participants with MCI, because many were destined to develop Alzheimer’s within a few years.

Blood caffeine levels at the study’s onset were substantially lower (51 percent less) in participants diagnosed with MCI who progressed to dementia during the two-to-four year follow-up than in those whose mild cognitive impairment remained stable over the same period.

No one with MCI who later developed Alzheimer’s had initial blood caffeine levels above a critical level of 1200 ng/ml – equivalent to drinking several cups of coffee a few hours before the blood sample was drawn. In contrast, many with stable MCI had blood caffeine levels higher than this critical level.

“Moderate daily consumption of caffeinated coffee appears to be the best dietary option for long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory loss,”

“We found that 100 percent of the MCI patients with plasma caffeine levels above the critical level experienced no conversion to Alzheimer’s disease during the two-to-four year follow-up period,” said study co-author Dr. Gary Arendash.

The researchers believe higher blood caffeine levels indicate habitually higher caffeine intake, most probably through coffee. Caffeinated coffee appeared to be the main, if not exclusive, source of caffeine in the memory-protected MCI patients, because they had the same profile of blood immune markers as Alzheimer’s mice given caffeinated coffee. Alzheimer’s mice given caffeine alone or decaffeinated coffee had a very different immune marker profile.

Since 2006, USF’s Dr. Cao and Dr. Arendash have published several studies investigating the effects of caffeine/coffee administered to Alzheimer’s mice. Most recently, they reported that caffeine interacts with a yet unidentified component of coffee to boost blood levels of a critical growth factor that seems to fight off the Alzheimer’s disease process.

“We are not saying that moderate coffee consumption will completely protect people from Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Cao cautioned. “However, we firmly believe that moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s or delay its onset.”

Alzheimer’s pathology is a process in which plaques and tangles accumulate in the brain, killing nerve cells, destroying neural connections, and ultimately leading to progressive and irreversible memory loss. Since the neurodegenerative disease starts one or two decades before cognitive decline becomes apparent, the study authors point out, any intervention to cut the risk of Alzheimer’s should ideally begin that far in advance of symptoms.

“Moderate daily consumption of caffeinated coffee appears to be the best dietary option for long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory loss,” Dr. Arendash said. “Coffee is inexpensive, readilyavailable, easily gets into the brain, and has few side-effects for most of us. Moreover, our studies show that caffeine and coffee appear to directly attack the Alzheimer’s disease process.”

In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, moderate caffeine/coffee intake appears to reduce the risk of several other diseases of aging, including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Type II diabetes, and breast cancer. However, supporting studies for these benefits have all been observational (uncontrolled), and controlled clinical trials are needed to definitively demonstrate therapeutic value.

A study tracking the health and coffee consumption of more than 400,000 older adults for 13 years, and published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that coffee drinkers reduced their risk of dying from heart disease, lung disease, pneumonia, stroke, diabetes, infections, and even injuries and accidents.

With new Alzheimer’s diagnostic guidelines encompassing the full continuum of the disease, approximately 10 million Americans now fall within one of three developmental stages of Alzheimer’s disease — Alzheimer’s disease brain pathology only, MCI, or diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. That number is expected to climb even higher as the baby-boomer generation continues to enter older age, unless an effective and proven preventive measure is identified.

“If we could conduct a large cohort study to look into the mechanisms of how and why coffee and caffeine can delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, it might result in billions of dollars in savings each year in addition to improved quality of life,” Dr. Cao said.

The USF-UM study was funded by the NIH-designated Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the State of Florida.

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