June 16, 2024

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Espresso knocks back Alzheimer’s protein in lab tests

Espresso knocks back Alzheimer’s protein in lab tests


Espresso knocks back Alzheimer’s protein in lab tests. 

Many people drink a cup of strong espresso first thing in the morning to refresh their minds. It may also help clear the protein tangles that cause Alzheimer’s, if the lab test results hold up in further research.

In unraveling the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s, researchers have zeroed in on two problematic proteins: tau and beta-amyloid. When these compounds malfunction, they form plaques and tangles in the brain that impair brain function and lead to the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s.


Espresso knocks back Alzheimer's protein in lab tests



To fight the disease, researchers have taken turns trying to prevent tau and beta-amyloid from accumulating in the brain, with mixed success. In 2022, for example, a trial of a drug designed to improve Alzheimer’s symptoms by reducing amyloid in the brain failed.


In terms of better understanding tau’s role in disease, researchers already know that the substance normally helps microtubules that transport nutrients maintain their shape, but sometimes folds into shapes that cause them to clump and form tangles.


Building on previous work, in 2021 researchers from China and Australia discovered that tau tangles, like seeds, can spread to other neurons by enlisting a cellular component called lysosomes to break through the walls of the cell membrane, where they are encapsulated in structures called exosomes.


Jürgen Götz, lead author of the study, said: “In Alzheimer’s patients, … exosomes seem to trigger a response that makes holes in their own membrane walls, allowing the toxic seeds to escape. These leaks create a destructive seeding process that leads to tau tangles and ultimately memory loss and other impairments.”


Despite studies linking our gut bacteria to tau buildup and tests capable of identifying tau through blood tests and spinal fluid analysis, a definitive way to untangle the tangles associated with Alzheimer’s remains elusive.


Now, researchers at the University of Verona in Italy may have found a way out in this regard — and it could be as simple as a cup of espresso .


In a study by a team of Italian researchers, researchers tested whole espresso extracts as well as various compounds isolated from coffee, including caffeine, harringtonine, genistein and theobromine, to see how they interact with tau protein tangles called fibrils.

It was found that caffeine and genistein, an antioxidant known as a flavonoid, prevented clumps of tau protein called fibers from forming long chains.

This in turn prevents them from weaving into large sheets that disrupt brain function. Caffeine also detoxifies the fibers and deprives them of their ability to spread as seeds to other cells.


Caffeine also binds to existing fibers, which opens the door for further studies using the compound as a therapy or detecting the presence of tau, the researchers say.


While caffeine and genistein have the ability to shorten the fibers, it was the full espresso extract that had the greatest impact on tau.

Because many of the compounds in coffee can cross the blood-brain barrier, the researchers believe that simply drinking espresso could bring some of the same benefits seen in the study.


“Based on the bioavailability of coffee components in the brain and our findings, we anticipate that moderate coffee consumption may provide sufficient quantities of bioactive molecules to individually or synergistically modulate tau aggregation and toxicity,” the researchers wrote. “Of course, further studies are needed to determine whether testing in isolated compounds and on living cells in laboratory dishes can be used in animal and human studies.”


The research was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.





Espresso knocks back Alzheimer’s protein in lab tests

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