Sip that coffee and prevent multiple sclerosis

July 1st, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 1 (IANS) Mice programmed to develop a multiple sclerosis like condition were protected from its effects by drinking caffeine, according to a study. Researchers discovered that when the rodents consumed the equivalent of six to eight cups of coffee a day, they did not develop the condition.

According to Linda Thompson, co-author of the study, the caffeine stopped adenosine (a building block in DNA) from binding to an adenosine receptor in mice.

Adenosine is a common molecule in the human body and plays a vital part in the biochemical processes of sleep, suppression of arousal and energy transfer.

When adenosine could not bind to the receptor, this prevented certain T cells - white blood cells that play a central role in immune responses - from reaching the central nervous system, triggering the disease.

“This is an exciting and unexpected finding, and I think it could be important for the study of multiple sclerosis and other diseases,” said Thompson.

In particular, she said, the research holds potential for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases — conditions in which the body uses the weapons of its immune system against itself.

“A mouse is not a human being, so we can’t be sure caffeine will have the same effect on people prone to develop multiple sclerosis without much more testing,” said Thompson.

The findings of the study have appeared in an early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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