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EVIDENCE LINKING CAFFEINE TO DEMENTIA
PREVENTION CONTINUES TO GROW.
There has been much research
linking caffeine and coffee drinking to
dementia prevention, but the question
remains: How does caffeine help?
New research, published in the
journal Scientific Reports, has taken
one step towards figuring this out.
Researchers from the USA screened
more than 1280 compounds and
identified 24 – one of which includes
caffeine – that increase the production
of an enzyme known as NMNAT2 in
NMNAT2 is a brain enzyme that has
been found to have a protective effect
on brain health. It is thought to have
two significant roles:
1. A protective function to guard
neurons from stress; and
2. A ‘chaperone function’ to combat
misfolded proteins called tau, which
accumulate in the brain as ‘plaques’
due to ageing.
“This work could help advance
efforts to develop drugs that increase
levels of this enzyme in the brain,
creating a chemical ‘blockade’
against the debilitating effects of
neurodegenerative disorders,” says Dr
Hui Chen Lui, who led the study based
at Indiana University in the USA.
To confirm the result, the
researchers administered caffeine
to mice that had been genetically
modified to produce lower levels of
NMNAT2. They found that the mice
given the caffeine started to produce
the same levels of the enzyme as the
control (or non-modified) mice.
“Increasing our knowledge about
the pathways in the brain that appear
to naturally cause the decline of
this necessary protein is equally as
important as identifying compounds
that could play a role in future
treatment of these debilitating mental
disorders,” Dr Chen Lui says.
According to a review published in
The Conversation during October 2016,
co-authored by Australian dementia
expert Professor Henry Brodaty AO
and nutrition expert Professor Clare
Collins, it isn’t quite that simple.
Many other factors apart from just
coffee drinking need to be taken into
consideration, such as diet, exercise
and overall health before you can fully
assess its benefits.
What this new study does suggest,
however, is that caffeine might have a
beneficial effect on brain health related
to dementia prevention but it needs to
be acknowledged that more research is
required to confirm these results.
Researchers have developed a new
genetic assessment that allows
individuals to calculate their age-specific
risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Understanding the genetic risks
for Alzheimer’s disease is extremely
important and this series of research
assessments, published in the
journal PLOS one, has integrated an
epidemiological framework to assess
The research team looked at the
genetic data of more than 70,000
people, some with known Alzheimer’s
disease and others that were considered
control samples (or people without
known Alzheimer’s disease).
From this data the researchers
could derive what they called an
“instantaneous risk estimate for
“We combined genetic data
from large, independent cohorts of
patients with Alzheimer’s disease
with epidemiological estimates to
create the scoring, then replicated our
findings on an independent sample and
validated them with known biomarkers
of Alzheimer’s pathology,” says Dr
Rahul Desikan from the University of
California – San Francisco.
Based on this finding they could
develop a continuous polygenic hazard
score (PHS). They found the people
in the top PHS quartile had developed
Alzheimer’s disease at a considerably
lower age and had the highest yearly
Alzheimer’s disease incidence rate.
Based on this type on information,
the researchers could strongly predict
PHS with an empirical age a person
might develop Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers believe thorough
validation and quantification of inherited
genetic variation might prove useful
for stratifying Alzheimer’s disease risk
and work as an enrichment strategy for
treatment trials in the future.
IN YOUR GENES
CAN A NEW GENETIC TEST DETERMINE DEMENTIA RISK?
25/5/17 2:48 pm
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