Espresso could save your life someday: New Alzheimer’s research discovery

An espresso martini might save your life someday.

A new study finds that compounds in espresso — including caffeine — could help to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Espresso, made from finely ground coffee beans brewed under pressure with hot water, is the basis for lattes, Americanos and other drinks, including the trendy espresso martini.

And “numerous studies report that … coffee consumption exerts a [protective] action against two of the most common neurodegenerative diseases, i.e., Parkinson′s and Alzheimer′s,” the study authors wrote.

So the researchers, working at the University of Verona in Italy, experimented with compounds in espresso to see if any of them could have an impact on the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Experts are still untangling the processes that cause Alzheimer’s to develop, but most researchers point to a protein in the brain called tau.

In most people, tau proteins help stabilize structures in the brain. But tau proteins can clump together into threads or fibrils that accumulate in brain regions involved in memory, according to the National Institute on Aging.

cup of espresso and coffee beans
Researchers have found that compounds in espresso might inhibit the development of tau protein fibrils associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
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espresso martinis
Compounds in espresso might offer some protection against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Shutterstock / Alexander Prokopenko

When that happens, the fibrils interrupt the communication between nerve cells in the brain, causing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: memory loss, poor judgment, wandering and personality changes.

Alzheimer’s can lead to death, often due to aspiration pneumonia, which develops when a person can’t swallow properly and takes food or liquids into their lungs.

To run their experiments, the researchers isolated compounds from store-bought espresso, namely, caffeine, trigonelline, genistein and theobromine.

These compounds, plus a complete espresso extract, were incubated in a laboratory alongside a shortened form of the tau protein for up to 40 hours. 

The experiments revealed that as the concentration of caffeine, genistein or the complete espresso extract increased, tau protein fibrils were shorter and didn’t form larger sheets, indicating that the progress toward Alzheimer’s might be slowed or halted.

But of all the compounds used in the experiments, “the complete extract [showed] the most dramatic results,” according to a news release.

More research is needed, but the new study — funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research — could help experts find other bioactive compounds against neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.

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

Recent advances in drug therapies have given new hope to people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.

image of Leqembi vial
Leqembi (lecanemab) is just one of several new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.

A new medication, donanemab, had a successful clinical trial and is expected to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration this fall.

People who took the drug had a 40% lower risk of progressing from mild cognitive impairment to mild dementia, or from mild to moderate dementia.

If approved, donanemab would be the third Alzheimer’s drug to enter the market in recent months, following Leqembi and Aduhelm.

Dr. Gil Rabinovici, director of the University of California San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center, touted the advancements in an editorial for JAMA this week.

Rabinovici said they were “just the opening chapter in a new era of molecular therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.”

This article was originally published on New York Post: Lifestyle

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