How Caffeine May Help Prevent Dementia
A new study conducted by researchers at Indiana University has identified 24 substances—including caffeine—that can increase certain enzymes in the brain known to help prevent dementia. The discovery of these substances may help researchers develop new drugs to increase levels of this enzyme, protecting against neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease.
The effects of the enzyme, which plays two roles in the brain—a protective function to shield neurons from stress and a "chaperone function" to combat damaged proteins called tau that accumulate over time as plaques in the brain—were discovered in 2016. Tau have been linked to neurological diseases like Parkinson's disease, Huntington's diseases, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), as well as Alzheimer's.
Some studies have suggested that caffeine also may help improve memory. For this study, researchers screened more than 1,280 substances, including existing drugs. In addition to caffeine, a drug called rolipram—an antidepressant that was discontinued in the 1990s—also significantly increased production of this brain enzyme.
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