Keep Alzheimer’s at bay with a cup of coffee

April 3rd, 2008 - 12:07 pm ICT by admin  

New York, April 3 (IANS) A daily dose of caffeine blocks the disruptive effects of high cholesterol that scientists link with Alzheimer’s disease. Caffeine equivalent of just a daily cup of coffee could protect the blood-brain barrier (BBB) from damage that occurs with a high-fat diet, according to a study.

The BBB protects the central nervous system (CNS) from the rest of the body’s circulation, providing the brain with its own regulated microenvironment.

Previous studies have shown that high levels of cholesterol break down the BBB that can then no longer protect the CNS from the damage caused by blood borne contamination. BBB leakage occurs in a variety of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

In this study, researchers of University of North Dakota (UND) gave rabbits three mg caffeine daily or the equivalent of an average daily cup of coffee. The rabbits were fed a cholesterol-enriched diet during this time.

After 12 weeks a number of lab tests showed that the BBB was significantly more intact in rabbits receiving a daily dose of caffeine.

Findings of the study have been published in the open access Journal of Neuroinflammation.

“Caffeine appears to block several of the disruptive effects of cholesterol that make the blood-brain barrier leaky,” says Jonathan Geige of UND.

“High levels of cholesterol are a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps by compromising the protective nature of the blood-brain barrier. For the first time we have shown that chronic ingestion of caffeine protects the BBB from cholesterol-induced leakage.

“Caffeine is a safe and readily available drug and its ability to stabilise the blood-brain barrier means it could have an important part to play in therapies against neurological disorders.”

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