Caffeine Found to Reverse Alzheimers' In Mice

Giving the caffeine equivalent of five cups of coffee a day to aged mice with symptoms of Alzheimer's reversed two signs of the disease: it reversed memory impairment and reduced the hallmark protein (beta-amyloid) in the animals' blood and brains, according to recent research. The research was the work of scientists from the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) at the University of South Florida and colleagues from other research centers in the US.


Lead author of the study, Dr Gary Arendash, a neuroscientist with the Florida ADRC, said that these new findings show that: "Caffeine could be a viable 'treatment' for established Alzheimer's disease, and not simply a protective strategy. That's important because caffeine is a safe drug for most people, it easily enters the brain, and it appears to directly affect the disease process," he added. 

For the study, Arendesh and his colleagues observed 55 transgenic mice that had been genetically altered to develop symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Behavior tests showed the mice showed signs of memory impairment when they reached 18 to 19 months old (this is equivalent to 70 in human years). At this stage they were put in two groups: one received caffeine in their drinking water and the other did not, they just continued with plain water.

The caffeine group was given 500 mg of caffeine a day, the equivalent of five regular cups of coffee. After two months, the mice in the caffeine group did better on memory and thinking tests, and performed as well as mice of the same age without dementia, while the mice in the non-caffeine group continued to do poorly in the tests. When Arendash and colleagues examined the brains of the mice, they found that those of the caffeine group had nearly 50 per cent less beta-amyloid.

Alzheimer's disease affects nearly half of Americans over the age of 85, and together with other dementias it triples the healthcare costs for people over 65, according to figures from the Alzheimer's Association.If these findings can be replicated in larger, more robust trials in humans, the benefits will be enormous.


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