Caffeine May Help Protect Against Dementia by Boosting Protective Enzyme Another reason to start up that coffee pot: Caffeine may have preventive power against dementia, finds a new study of mice. Indiana University (IU) researchers found that the stimulant is one of 24 compounds that may increase production of a particular brain enzyme in mice that has been shown to ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   June 01, 2017
Caffeine May Help Protect Against Dementia by Boosting Protective Enzyme
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Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   June 01, 2017
Caffeine May Help Protect Against Dementia by Boosting Protective Enzyme
The ASHA Leader, June 2017, Vol. 22, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.22062017.14
The ASHA Leader, June 2017, Vol. 22, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.22062017.14
Another reason to start up that coffee pot: Caffeine may have preventive power against dementia, finds a new study of mice.
Indiana University (IU) researchers found that the stimulant is one of 24 compounds that may increase production of a particular brain enzyme in mice that has been shown to have protective powers against dementia.
“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 lead author Hui-Chen Lu, a Gill Professor in the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU Bloomington.
Lu and her team previously found that the NMNAT2 enzyme may protect against dementia by guarding neurons from stress and being a “chaperone” in preventing misfolded proteins called “tau”—linked to neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease—from collecting in the brain as plaque as humans age.

The enzyme may protect against dementia by guarding neurons from stress and being a “chaperone” in preventing misfolded proteins called “tau” from collecting in the brain.

In this most recent study, published in Scientific Reports, the researchers screened 1,280 different compounds, identifying 24 that could potentially increase production of NMNAT2. Lu’s previous research had found that mice with more misfolded tau had lower levels of NMNAT2.
The researchers verified the caffeine’s effect by giving it to mice with lower levels of NMNAT2; after, the mice began producing NMNAT2 at the same level as mice with originally normal levels of the enzyme.
Other compounds associated with increased NMNAT2 production included rolipram, ziprasidone, cantharidin, wortmannin and retinoic acid.
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June 2017
Volume 22, Issue 6