Your morning cup of java may do more than clear away drowsiness; it may also protect your neural cells from oxidative damage that leads to cognitive decline. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, two coffee components, working together synergistically, may reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease and other forms of dementia that are characterized by abnormal deposits of proteins inside nerve cells called with Lewy bodies, or DLB.
The study, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, and published in the December 19, 2019 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that caffeine and a chemical called eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT) are responsible for the neuroprotectant properties of coffee. Using mouse models induced with Parkinson’s disease and DLB, the scientists observed the effects of each component individually and together. They found that the protective effect was not seen with either substance separately, but with the supplementation of both components over a period of six months, the mice showed decreased nerve inflammation and less accumulation of the protein alpha-synuclein. The latter effect was, according to the researchers, achieved via inhibition of an enzyme dubbed protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A). The study authors also note that since coffee contains more than 1,000 substances, there may be other chemical compounds that contribute to this effect.
Yan R, Zhang J, Park H-J, et al. Synergistic neuroprotection by coffee components eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide and caffeine in models of Parkinson’s disease and DLB. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2018;115(51):E12053-E12062.