Coffee Compounds Could Slow Brain Degeneration

coffee is not a wooden window sill

Drinking coffee has been linked with a decrease in the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. An article appearing on December 3, 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences could help explain it.

Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School report the ability of two compounds occurring in coffee to help prevent the accumulation of harmful proteins associated with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. “Hyperphosphorylated alpha-synuclein in Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites is a characteristic neuropathological feature of Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies,” write M. Maral Mouradian and colleagues. “The present study was carried out to test the potential synergy between eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide [EHT, found in coffee beans’ coating] and caffeine in protecting against alpha-synuclein−mediated pathology in two mouse models.”

While EHT or caffeine alone were not effective, administering them together increased the activity of PP2A, which helps prevent the accumulation of alpha-synuclein. PP2A is dysregulated in the brains of those with Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Greater PP2A activity was reflected in improved behavioral performance in both mouse models.

“EHT is a compound found in various types of coffee but the amount varies,” noted Dr. Mouradian, who is the director of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Institute for Neurological Therapeutics. “It is important that the appropriate amount and ratio be determined so people don’t over-caffeinate themselves, as that can have negative health consequences.”

“As we begin to unravel the polypharmacology of the micronutrients in commonly consumed botanical extracts such as coffee, it seems likely that it will be possible to optimize their composition to enhance efficacy so as to provide widely available, inexpensive, and effective therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases,” the authors conclude.

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