When you think of Alzheimer's disease, memory loss is the first symptom that comes to mind. However, there are also a number of neuropsychiatric symptoms that may be present even in the early stages of the disease. Known as behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, or BPSD or short, they include anxiety, depression, apathy, hallucinations and paranoia.
Recent research has suggested that caffeine prevents dementia, both in patients with Alzheimer's disease and in the normal ageing process, by blocking molecules in the brain called adenosine receptors that can cause dysfunction and disease in old age. However, some research suggests that once the cognitive symptoms occur, caffeine might have the opposite effect. Read on for more.
Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth leading cause of death among people 65 years of age and older
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1999 and 2014, Alzheimer’s disease death rates increased by 55% – and death rates are climbing.
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New research links long-term caffeine to worsened neuropsychiatric symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
To reach their findings, the researchers studied normal mice and also mice engineered to develop Alzheimer’s like symptoms. “The mice develop Alzheimer's disease in a very close manner to the human patients with early-onset form of the disease,” said research Raquel Baeta-Corral of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. In addition to developing cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, the mice also exhibit the neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with it.
The study team simulated a long oral treatment with a super-low dosage of caffeine (0.3 mg/mL) that was the equivalent to a human drinking three cups of coffee. The study was conducted from the time Alzheimer’s disease began to the more advanced stages, as well in the healthy age-matched mice.
They found that caffeine changed the behaviour of the healthy mice and worsened the neuropsychiatric symptoms of mice with Alzheimer’s disease. They identified significant effected in relation to neophobia (the fear of everything), anxiety
-related behaviours and emotional and cognitive flexibility.
What’s more, in mice with Alzheimer’s disease, the increase in neophobia and anxiety
-related behaviours associated with caffeine worsened their BPDS symptoms and barely benefitted their memory and learning.
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