- Portuguese research team finds a positive relationship between age-related memory problems and the caffeine-binding receptor in the brains.
- Caffeine might reverse memory loss.
Lots of coffee has always been the mainstay of students and those of us alike who need caffeine stimulation in the morning, especially after the night before. New research now suggests caffeine can improve memory generally.
A joint study by the Institute of Molecular Medicine (iMM) in Lisbon and Inserm in Lille, France amongst others has reported on the links that exist between the over-expression of an important receptor in the brain and the loss of memory that appears to result.
The receptor known as adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) can be over-expressed which leads to a disruption of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal feedback system. This leads to a fall in other receptors such as the glucocorticoid variants and this is similar to what happens to brains that age. It is important to note the research has so far only been conducted in rats but using a human form of the receptor.
In this study, transgenic rats which had been genetically modified to over express the human A2AR were put through their paces in a series of maze tests. These particular rats performed significantly worse than their wild-type counterparts. It seems though that memory performance can be improved by treatment with anti- A2AR drugs.
What proved most interesting was how caffeine improved memory function and it is probably through this specific mechanism as identified. The research is the first to demonstrate a link between an increase in this receptor’s expression especially in the hippocampus with corresponding decline in the density of glucocorticoid receptors.
The team contend that:-
“The beneficial effects of A2AR antagonists, namely caffeine, against cognitive impairments may be, at least partially, due to the now reported effects on glucocorticoid receptors”.
“The expansion of this interaction to the immune response, cell proliferation, tumour response and other cellular functions that imply glucocorticoid receptors or corticosteroids use in therapeutics, could have an enormous clinical impact”.
There is considerable interest in the effect that stress through hormones has on memory especially in the aged where this phenomenon is more prevalent. Caffeine acts as a highly effective A2AR antagonist which counters the deleterious effects of Alzheimer’s and aging generally on memory function generally. It is felt caffeine amongst other components from coffee has highly beneficial effects in treating depression and other anxiety-related problems. In fact, the research group believes caffeine is instrumental in “supporting the ability of caffeine and A2AR blockade to prevent memory impairment in various conditions, and recent work revealed that caffeine actually (sic.) has precognitive effects”.
David Blum, Inserm’s Research Director, concluded:
“In elderly people, we know there is an increase of stress hormones that have an impact on memory. Our work supports the view that the procognitive effects of A2AR antagonists, namely caffeine, observed in Alzheimer’s and age-related cognitive impairments may rely on this ability to counteract the loss of stress controlling mechanisms that occurs upon aging.”
Drinking coffee or consuming caffeine could help treat depression to some extent. The findings are critical for overcoming memory dysfunction, combating the annoying impact of mental ageing and reducing the effect that glucocorticoid receptor loss has.
Clearly, coffee and caffeine in particular is the gift that keeps on giving in terms of the benefits that it promotes. The team at Insights2Innovate have been developing caffeine based RTD dairy drinks which would help meet some of these requirements in reversing memory loss. They said:-
“We just hope that like caffeine you remember to try our products out which should keep your memory working“.
Vânia L. Batalha, Diana G. Ferreira, Joana E. Coelho, Jorge S. Valadas, Rui Gomes, Mariana Temido-Ferreira, Tatiana Shmidt, Younis Baqi, Luc Buée, Christa E. Müller, Malika Hamdane, Tiago F. Outeiro, Michael Bader, Sebastiaan H. Meijsing, Ghazaleh Sadri-Vakili, David Blum, Luísa V. Lopes. (2016). The caffeine-binding adenosine A2A receptor induces age-like HPA-axis dysfunction by targeting glucocorticoid receptor function. Scientific Reports, 6: 31493 DOI: 10.1038/srep31493