Dynamic Duo in Coffee Helps Protect Against Parkinson’s


BY STEVE BORN

With no pun intended, the good news regarding coffee consumption continues to pour in. The latest is research from Rutgers University that suggests that two of coffee’s compounds—working synergistically—may be responsible for helping to protect the brain by slowing down brain degeneration. One of those compounds is caffeine, which pretty much everyone is familiar with. The other compound is a fatty acid derivative of the neurotransmitter serotonin known as Eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide, or EHT, which is found in the waxy coating of the coffee bean.

Prior research has shown that drinking coffee helps reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, and caffeine has historically been given the credit as the agent that provides the protective benefits. Still, with more than a thousand other compounds, Dr. M. Maral Mouradian decided to see if one of those compounds would also provide benefits.

In this study, Dr. Mouradian and team focused on EHT. They separated mice into three groups: one received small doses of caffeine, the other small doses of EHT, and the third received both caffeine and EHT. Neither caffeine nor EHT by itself were effective, but when combined they were shown to “inhibit the protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) methylesterase so as to maintain PP2A in a highly active methylated state and mitigate the phenotype of α-synuclein transgenic (SynTg) mice.”

In layman’s terms, the researchers found that the caffeine/EHT combination boosted the activity of a catalyst that helps prevent the accumulation of damaging proteins in the brain. This is especially noteworthy because the researchers believe that this combination would not only address the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, which current treatments only do, but may actually be able to slow and even stop the progression of the disease.

As mentioned earlier, with coffee containing more than one thousand different compounds, additional research may find other specific ones to go along with caffeine and EHT in providing powerfully protective benefits for the brain.