Caffeine consumption may lead to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. A new University of Illinois study has explained the phenomenon.
Caffeine blocks a neurodegenerative response from the brain
“We have discovered a novel signal that activates the brain-based inflammation associated with neurodegenerative diseases, and caffeine appears to block its activity. This discovery may eventually lead to drugs that could reverse or inhibit mild cognitive impairment,” explained Gregory Freund, a professor in the University of Illinois’s college of Medicine and a member of the Division of Nutritional Sciences.
Caffeinated mice recovered the memory 33% faster
They looked at the effects of caffeine on memory formation in two groups of mice, one a control group. They were then exposed to hypoxia, simulating what happens to the brain with interrupted breathing or blood flow. They were allowed to recover. The mice in the caffeine group recovered 33% faster than the caffeine-free mice.
“It’s not surprising that the insult to the brain that the mice experienced would cause learning memory to be impaired. But how does that occur?” Freund tried to find an explanation. They found that the hypoxic episode triggered the release of adenosine by brain cells.
Caffeine stops the damaging enzymes from being released
“Your cells are little powerhouses, and they run on a fuel called ATP that’s made up of molecules of adenosine. When there’s damage to a cell, adenosine is released,” he explained. When adenosine leaks from a cell it poses a danger to its environment. It activates the enzyme caspase-1 which triggers production of the cytokine IL-13, which is related to inflammation. “But caffeine blocks all the activity of adenosine and inhibits caspase-1 ad the inflammation that comes with it, limiting damage to the brain and protecting it from further injury.”
Source: UofI, MedicalNewsToday