In a recent study, researchers found that a compound in coffee that may work with caffeine to fight Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.
Both brain diseases are progressive and currently incurable.
It is estimated that about one million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s disease. The condition can lead to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination.
Current treatments only can reduce the symptoms but cannot protect against brain degeneration.
Lewy body dementia is one of the most common forms of dementia and affects more than one million people in the U.S.
Patients may experience problems with thinking, behavior, mood, and movement.
Previous research has shown that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Although caffeine is one of coffee’s special protective agents, coffee beans contain more than a thousand other compounds that are less well known.
In the current study, the team focused on a fatty acid derivative of the neurotransmitter serotonin, called EHT (Eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide). It can be found in the coffee bean’s waxy coating.
The team found that EHT protects the brain against abnormal protein accumulation associated with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. The experiments were done on mice.
Each compound alone was not effective, but when they were combined together, they boosted a brain activity that helps prevent the accumulation of harmful proteins in the brain.
The team suggests the two compounds combined may become a therapeutic option to slow brain degeneration caused by the diseases.
Future work is needed to determine the proper amounts and ratio of EHT and caffeine required for the protective effect in people.
The lead author of the study is M. Maral Mouradian at Rutgers University.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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