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"Mystery ingredient" in coffee boosts protection against Alzheimer's

 Mystery ingredient  in coffee boosts protection against Alzheimer s Not found in other caffeine rich beverages such as tea

Daily consumption of coffee and other caffeine rich drinks has been linked to a number of health benefits, including helping to protect against dementia.

Now a new study has identified a mystery ingredient of coffee that seems to boost the effects of a critical growth factor that plays a part in fighting the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Previous studies had suggested that caffeine is the key component providing these benefits, as it decreases brain production of the abnormal protein beta-amyloid, which is thought to cause Alzheimer's.

While the new study does not in any way reduce the importance of caffeine in this process, it shows that it is more effective when taken in coffee than in other drinks such as tea.

The study compared the effects of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee to those of caffeine alone by feeding them to mice specially bred to develop symptoms mimicking Alzheimer’s disease.

This found that caffeinated coffee induces an increase in blood levels of a growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor). This effect was NOT seen with decaffeinated coffee or caffeine on its own.

GCSF is a substance greatly decreased in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and demonstrated to improve memory in Alzheimer’s mice.

Study leader Dr Chuanhai Cao commented: "Caffeinated coffee provides a natural increase in blood GCSF levels. The exact way that this occurs is not understood. There is a synergistic interaction between caffeine and some mystery component of coffee that provides this beneficial increase in blood GCSF levels."

The study also found that long-term treatment with coffee enhances memory in Alzheimer’s mice.

Dr Cao would like to identify the yet unknown component so that coffee and other beverages could be enriched with it to provide long-term protection against Alzheimer’s

"Together these actions appear to give coffee an amazing potential to protect against Alzheimer’s -- but only if you drink moderate amounts of caffeinated coffee" Dr Cao said.

The study, carried out at the University of South Florida, is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

This article was published on Mon 27 June 2011

Image © Okea - Fotolia.com

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