C Cao et al, 2012, High blood caffeine levels in MCI linked to lack of progression to dementia, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, published online ahead of pint.

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Abstract. Although both human epidemiologic and animal model studies have suggested that caffeine/coffee protects against Alzheimer’s disease, direct human evidence for this premise has been lacking. In the present case control study, two separate cohorts consisting of 124 total individuals (65–88 years old) were cognitively assessed and a blood sample taken for caffeine/ biomarker analysis. Subjects were then monitored for cognitive status over the ensuing 2–4 year period to determine the extent to which initial plasma caffeine/biomarkers levels would be predictive of changes in cognitive status. Plasma caffeine levels at study onset were substantially lower (−51%) in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) subjects who later progressed to dementia (MCI→DEM) compared to levels in stable MCI subjects (MCI→MCI). Moreover, none of the MCI→DEM subjects had initial blood caffeine levels that were above a critical level of 1200 ng/ml, while half of stable MCI→MCI subjects had blood caffeine levels higher than that critical level. Thus, plasma caffeine levels greater than 1200 ng/ml (≈6_M) in MCI subjects were associated with no conversion to dementia during the ensuing 2–4 year follow-up period. Among the 11 cytokines measured in plasma, three of them (GCSF, IL-10, and IL-6) were decreased in MCI→DEM subjects, but not in stable MCI→MCI subjects with high plasma caffeine levels. Coffee would appear to be the major or perhaps only source of caffeine for such stable MCI patients. This case-control study provides the first direct evidence that caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed onset, particularly for those who already have MCI.

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