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Mouse Study Suggests Coffee Ingredient Deters Alzheimer’s

By Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 22, 2011

Mouse Study Suggests Coffee Ingredient Deters AlzheimersA new laboratory study from the University of South Florida suggests an unknown component of coffee interacts with caffeine to protect against Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Using a mouse model, researchers found that this interaction boosts blood levels of a critical growth factor that seems to fight off the Alzheimer’s disease process.

The research presents the first evidence that caffeinated coffee offers protection against the memory-robbing disease not found in other caffeine-containing drinks or decaffeinated coffee.

Moreover, the findings support real-life observational research that has found daily coffee/caffeine intake during mid-life and in older age decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The USF researchers’ earlier studies in Alzheimer’s mice indicated that caffeine was likely the ingredient in coffee that provides this protection because it decreases brain production of the abnormal protein beta-amyloid, which is thought to cause the disease.

The new study shows that caffeinated coffee induces an increase in blood levels of a growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor). GCSF is a substance greatly decreased in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and demonstrated to improve memory in Alzheimer’s mice.

“Caffeinated coffee provides a natural increase in blood GCSF levels,” said USF neuroscientist Dr. Chuanhai Cao, lead author of the study.

“The exact way that this occurs is not understood. There is a synergistic interaction between caffeine and some mystery component of coffee that provides this beneficial increase in blood GCSF levels.”

Identifying this yet unknown component could lead to enroiching coffee and other beverages with it to provide long-term protection against Alzheimer’s.

In their study, the researchers compared the effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee to those of caffeine alone. In both Alzheimer’s mice and normal mice, treatment with caffeinated coffee greatly increased blood levels of GCSF; neither caffeine alone or decaffeinated coffee provided this effect.

The boost in GCSF levels is important, because the researchers also reported that long-term treatment with coffee (but not decaffeinated coffee) enhances memory in Alzheimer’s mice. Higher blood GCSF levels due to coffee intake were associated with better memory.

Although the present study was performed in Alzheimer’s mice, the researchers indicated that they’ve gathered clinical evidence of caffeine/coffee’s ability to protect humans against Alzheimer’s and will soon publish those findings.

Coffee is safe for most Americans to consume in the moderate amounts (4 to 5 cups a day) that appear necessary to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

“No synthetic drugs have yet been developed to treat the underlying Alzheimer’s disease process” said Dr. Gary Arendash, the study’s other lead author.

“We see no reason why an inherently natural product such as coffee cannot be more beneficial and safer than medications, especially to protect against a disease that takes decades to become apparent after it starts in the brain.”

Researchers suggests moderate daily coffee intake starting at least by middle age (30s – 50s) is optimal for providing protection against Alzheimer’s disease, although starting even in older age appears protective from their studies.

“We are not saying that daily moderate coffee consumption will completely protect people from getting Alzheimer’s disease,” Cao said. “However, we do believe that moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of this dreaded disease or delay its onset.”

Coffee also contains many ingredients other than caffeine that potentially offer cognitive benefits against Alzheimer’s disease. “The average American gets most of their daily antioxidants intake through coffee,” Cao said. “Coffee is high in anti-inflammatory compounds that also may provide protective benefits against Alzheimer’s disease.”

“Now is the time to aggressively pursue the protective benefits of coffee against Alzheimer’s disease,” Arendash said. “Hopefully, the coffee industry will soon become an active partner with Alzheimer’s researchers to find the protective ingredient in coffee and concentrate it in dietary sources.”

“Because Alzheimer’s starts in the brain several decades before it is diagnosed, any protective therapy would obviously need to be taken for decades,” Cao said. “We believe moderate daily consumption of caffeinated coffee is the best current option for long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory loss. Coffee is inexpensive, readily available, easily gets into the brain, appears to directly attack the disease process, and has few side effects for most of us.”

While the researchers believe coffee consumption is important for Alzheimer’s protection, two other lifestyle choices — physical and cognitive activity – also appear to reduce the risk of dementia.

“Combining regular physical and mental exercise with moderate coffee consumption would seem to be an excellent multi-faceted approach to reducing risk or delaying Alzheimer’s,” Arendash said.

“With pharmaceutical companies spending millions of dollars trying to develop drugs against Alzheimer’s disease, there may very well be an effective preventive right under our noses every morning – caffeinated coffee.”

The findings appear in the early online version of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Source: University of South Florida

 

APA Reference
Nauert, R. (2011). Mouse Study Suggests Coffee Ingredient Deters Alzheimer’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/06/22/mouse-study-suggests-coffee-ingredient-deters-alzheimers/27149.html