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Espresso Might Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease Development

The study reveals promising results in inhibiting harmful tau protein fibrils and how Espresso might prevent Alzheimer’s.
A new study shows promising results in inhibiting harmful tau protein fibrils and how Espresso might prevent Alzheimer’s. Credit: Brian / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Researchers from the University of Verona in Italy explored the potential of compounds found in espresso, including the well-known caffeine, to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Espresso is the coffee made from ground beans brewed under pressure with hot water, and is the very foundation of drinks like lattes, Americanos, cappuccinos and those trendy espresso martinis.

According to the study authors, there have been numerous reports stating that coffee consumption might offer a protective effect against two common neurodegenerative diseases: Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s development

Experts are still trying to figure out all the processes behind it, but most of them believe that a protein in the brain, called tau, plays a significant role.

In normal circumstances, tau proteins do a great job of keeping structures in the brain stable. But sometimes, they can form clumps or threads, known as fibrils, which accumulate in brain regions related to memory, as explained by the National Institute on Aging.

Certain substances in espresso might be able to slow down or stop the formation of harmful tau protein fibrils linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

When these fibrils develop, they disrupt the communication between brain nerve cells, leading to symptoms like memory loss, poor judgment, wandering, and changes in personality.

Alzheimer’s can even be fatal, often due to aspiration pneumonia, a condition where food or liquids accidentally enter the lungs because a person can’t swallow properly.

Study Setup

To conduct their experiments, the researchers isolated some compounds from regular store-bought espresso. These included caffeine, trigonelline, genistein, and theobromine. They combined these substances and a complete espresso extract with a shortened version of the tau protein, then left them together in a lab for up to 40 hours.

The results showed that when the concentration of caffeine, genistein, or the complete espresso extract was increased, the tau protein fibrils became shorter and didn’t form large clumps. This suggests that the progression of Alzheimer’s disease might be slowed or stopped by these compounds.

Notably, the complete espresso extract had the most significant impact on the experiments, as stated in a news release.

While more research is required, this study, funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research, could pave the way for finding other beneficial substances in the fight against neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s. The findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Recent advancements in drug therapies have provided renewed hope for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and those caring for them.

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