Caffeine has the potential to boost an enzyme in the brain shown to protect against dementia, a new study by researchers at the Indiana University in the US found.
The new study, which appears in the journal Scientific Reports, revealed that caffeine was among one of the 24 compounds that could delay and protect against the onset of dementia, which affects millions globally each year.
The protective effect of the enzyme, known as NMNAT2, was discovered in 2021 through research conduction at IU Bloomington. This enzyme resists dementia and other degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and ALS.
“This work could help advance efforts to develop drugs that increase levels of this enzyme in the brain, creating a chemical ‘blockade’ against the debilitating effects of neurodegenerative disorders,” lead author of the study Hui-Chen Lu said in a statement.
One of the other compounds that were examined in the study included Rolipram, which was considered for the use of an anti-depressant in the mid-1990s by medical researchers. But of all the 24, caffeine’s impact on the degenerative illness was potentially the strongest, the team discovered.
“Increasing our knowledge about the pathways in the brain that appear to naturally cause the decline of this necessary protein is equally as important as identifying compounds that could play a role in future treatment of these debilitating mental disorders,” Lu noted.
The study did not involve human test subjects. Instead, the team artificially reduced levels of NMNAT2 in mice and then injected them with caffeine. As a result, the mice rebounded to normal levels of the enzyme.
An earlier study also led by Lu last year was the first to identify NMNAT2’s dementia-resisting capabilities.
The incidence of dementia is rising dramatically all over the world and Alzheimer’s has become the most common form of the illness, accounting for around 0 to 60 percent of all dementia cases.
Dementia cases are expected to triple by 2050 globally, according to findings presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference last year.
A limitation to the study was that it did not address the adverse effects of drinking coffee, especially when consumed at high levels.
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