Wake up and smell the coffee: Study finds that caffeine may help prevent MS

Jun 30, 2008
Coffee

A good cup of coffee might be just the wake-up call scientists need to stop multiple sclerosis.

A new study coauthored by Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Linda Thompson, Ph.D., found that mice immunized to develop an MS-like condition were protected from the disease by drinking caffeine. The research appears in the early online edition of the June 30, 2008 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the study, done in collaboration with Cornell University and Finland's University of Turku, researchers followed the progress of mice that normally developed an MS-like condition. The scientists discovered that when the rodents consumed the equivalent of six to eight cups of coffee a day, they did not develop the condition. The finding could lead to new ways to prevent and treat MS, said Thompson.

According to Thompson, the caffeine stopped adenosine (one of the four building blocks in DNA) from binding to an adenosine receptor in mice. Adenosine is a common molecule in the human body and plays a vital part in the biochemical processes of sleep, suppression of arousal and energy transfer.

When adenosine could not bind to the receptor, this prevented certain T cells—white blood cells that play a central role in immune responses—from reaching the central nervous system and triggering the cascade of events that lead to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, or EAE, the animal model for the human disease MS.

"This is an exciting and unexpected finding, and I think it could be important for the study of MS and other diseases," said Thompson, who holds the Putnam City Schools Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research at OMRF. In particular, she said, the research holds potential for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases—conditions in which the body uses the weapons of its immune system against itself.

While the results are heartening, Thompson said there is much more work to be done for the prevention of multiple sclerosis in humans. "A mouse is not a human being, so we can't be sure caffeine will have the same effect on people prone to develop MS without much more testing."

A retrospective study of people with MS to track their caffeine intake and the effects on the disease could be an important next step in the research process, said Thompson. "If you found a correlation between caffeine intake and reduced MS symptoms, that would point to further studies in humans."

MS is disorder of the central nervous system marked by weakness, numbness, a loss of muscle coordination, and problems with vision, speech and bladder control. Believed to be an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks nerves in the brain and spinal cord, MS affects approximately 400,000 Americans and 2.5 million people worldwide.

Source: Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

Explore further: Diet affects men's and women's gut microbes differently

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

European Central Bank hit by data theft

28 minutes ago

(AP)—The European Central Bank said Thursday that email addresses and other contact information have been stolen from a database that serves its public website, though it stressed that no internal systems or market-sensitive ...

The most precise measurement of an alien world's size

28 minutes ago

Thanks to NASA's Kepler and Spitzer Space Telescopes, scientists have made the most precise measurement ever of the radius of a planet outside our solar system. The size of the exoplanet, dubbed Kepler-93b, ...

A new approach to creating organic zeolites

34 minutes ago

Yushan Yan, Distinguished Professor of Engineering at the University of Delaware, is known worldwide for using nanomaterials to solve problems in energy engineering, environmental sustainability and electronics.

MIPT-based researcher models Titan's atmosphere

8 minutes ago

A researcher from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Prof. Vladimir Krasnopolsky, who heads the Laboratory of High Resolution Infrared Spectroscopy of Planetary Atmospheres, has published the results of the comparison ...

Recommended for you

Diet affects men's and women's gut microbes differently

14 hours ago

The microbes living in the guts of males and females react differently to diet, even when the diets are identical, according to a study by scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and six other institutions published ...

Researchers explore what happens when heart cells fail

15 hours ago

Through a grant from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation, Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Naomi Chesler will embark upon a new collaborative research project to better understand ...

Stem cells from nerves form teeth

17 hours ago

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that stem cells inside the soft tissues of the tooth come from an unexpected source, namely nerves. These findings are now being published in the journal Nature and co ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
5 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2008
At last! A kind word for coffee!