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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Alzheimer's 'reversed' by caffeine

7th July 2009

Researchers in the United States say that coffee could boost memory, even in people already suffering from Alzheimer's disease.


Five cups of coffee a day could reverse the effects of dementia, the team from the University of South Florida said.

In tests carried out on mice, researchers found that caffeine blocked the production of certain plaques which are used as an indicator of Alzheimer's.

The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's, links with previous findings about the effects of coffee on the disease.

Scientists used 55 specially bred mice with the equivalent of Alzheimer's disease, testing to confirm through behaviour that the animals were exhibiting signs of the disease at 18-19 months of age, which is roughly equivalent to 70 years old in a human.

Half the mice were given caffeine in their drinking water which was equivalent to drinking five cups of coffee a day, while the rest were given plain water.

That would translate to about two cups of "speciality" coffees like lattes or cappucinos, or five regular coffees, or 14 cups of tea.

After two months, the mice that had taken the caffeine performed better on memory and cognitive tests than the control group.

Their results were equivalent to mice of the same age without dementia. The group that drank plain water continued to do poorly on tests.

On testing, the brains of the mice given the caffeine were shown to have undergone a drastic reduction - by 50% - in the amount of beta amyloid protein, which clumps in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

The researchers said testing showed that the caffeine was affecting production of two enzymes, both of which are needed to produce the protein.

It also appeared to suppress inflammatory changes in the brain which also lead to too much beta amyloid.

Study lead author Gary Arendash said the results were particularly exciting because a reversal of pre-existing memory impairment was more difficult to achieve than simple prevention.

He said the team would now begin trials to discover the effects of caffeine on humans with dementia.

Alzheimer's experts said it was still too early to say whether or not caffeine supplements could be of help to dementia patients.

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