While some people choose to consumer coffee in order to get their daily caffeine fix, they may not realize that drinking the beverage could prevent the need for Alzheimer's care down the line.
There have been some studies that suggest caffeine could be a way to reduce one's risk of Alzheimer's, and now new research out of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences may have discovered why that is.
The researchers looked at the effects caffeine had on mice. The rodents were split into two groups, one that received caffeine and another that did not. The researchers exposed the mice to hypoxia, which is when the brain experiences and interruption of blood flow.
The study's authors noted that mice that received the caffeine were more likely to form a new memory at a rate of 33 percent faster speed than the mice that did not. According to the research, caffeine presented the same effect in reducing inflammation as it did blocking IL-1, which is one of the most prominent aspects of inflammation in people who suffer from neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's.
"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," said Gregory Freund, a professor in the U of I's College of Medicine and a member of the U of I's Division of Nutritional Sciences. "But caffeine blocks all the activity of adenosine and inhibits caspase-1 and the inflammation that comes with it, limiting damage to the brain and protecting it from further injury."
Freund continued that he and his team were excited about the possibilities that this information could bring to the world of Alzheimer's care.
"We feel that our foot is in the door now, and this research may lead to a way to reverse early cognitive impairment in the brain. We already have drugs that target certain adenosine receptors. Our work now is to determine which receptor is the most important and use a specific antagonist to that receptor," he said.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5.4 million Americans are suffering from Alzheimer's disease. What's even more troubling to the medical community is that it's currently the sixth leading cause of death in the country and the only condition on the list without a cure or an ability to even delay the symptoms.
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