Factor X in coffee may fight Alzheimer`s

Updated: Jun 30, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

Washington: An unidentified component of coffee interacts with the beverage`s caffeine which seemingly offers protection against Alzheimer`s.

A new mouse study by University of South Florida has found that this interaction boosts blood levels of a critical growth factor that seems to counteract Alzheimer`s disease process.

Using mice engineered to breed Alzheimer`s, researchers presented the first evidence that caffeinated coffee offers protection against the memory-robbing disease that is not possible with other caffeine-containing drinks or decaffeinated coffee.

Previous observational studies in humans reported that daily coffee/caffeine intake during mid-life and in older age decreases the risk of Alzheimer`s disease, Journal of Alzheimer`s Disease says.

The researchers` earlier studies in Alzheimer`s mice indicated that caffeine was likely the ingredient in coffee that provides this protection because it decreases brain production of the abnormal protein beta-amyloid, which is thought to be the cause of the disease, according to a Florida statement.

The new study does not diminish the importance of caffeine to protect against Alzheimer`s. Rather, it shows that caffeinated coffee induces an increase in blood levels of a growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor).

GCSF is a substance greatly decreased in patients with Alzheimer`s disease and shown to improve memory in Alzheimer`s mice.

"Caffeinated coffee provides a natural increase in blood GCSF levels," said University of South Florida neuroscientist Chuanhai Cao, who led the study.