Could Caffeine Slow Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Prof. Dr. Christa E. Müller University of Bonn Pharmaceutical Institute Pharmaceutical Chemistry I An der Immenburg 4  D-53121 Bonn (Endenich) Germany Interview with:
Prof. Dr. Christa E. Müller
University of Bonn Pharmaceutical Institute Pharmaceutical
Chemistry I An der Immenburg 4  D-53121 Bonn (Endenich) Germany What are the main findings of the study?

Prof. Dr. Christa E. Müller: Genetically altered mice which show an aggregation of Tau protein and many symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease which progressively worsen with time was used.

Caffeine was given to one group of mice at an early stage, when the symptoms were still moderate.

The caffeine-treated mice showed better memory and less inflammation and brain damages in comparison to the non-treated control mice. This means that caffeine protected the mice to some extent. The side effects were moderate. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Prof. Dr. Christa E. Müller: In research one never knows. We had a hypothesis, but the result was unclear. Fortunately, the hypothesis, that caffeine (and selective adenosine receptor antagonists) could slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease in a specific mouse-model, could be confirmed. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Prof. Dr. Christa E. Müller: For healthy patients normal intake of caffeine might protect from neurodegenerative diseases. The same may be true for Alzheimer patients in initial states of the disease.  However, patients suffering for example from serious heart diseases like high blood pressure, should be careful and first consult their physician. Also, pregnant women should avoid caffeine.

Clinical studies have to be undertaken to finally prove this in patients. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Prof. Dr. Christa E. Müller: One of the next steps will be to perform a small clinical study with patients suffering from mild cognitive impairment to study whether caffeine prevents or at least delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Initial studies will probably be performed with caffeine. However, it would be better to use selective antagonists for adenosine A2A receptors, which are more potent and show less side-effects.


Cyril Laurent, Sabiha Eddarkaoui, Maxime Derisbourg, Antoine Leboucher, Dominique Demeyer, Sébastien Carrier, Marion Schneider, Malika Hamdane, Christa E. Müller, Luc Buée, David Blum. Beneficial effects of caffeine in a transgenic model of Alzheimer’s Disease-like Tau pathology. Neurobiology of Aging, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.03.027

Last Updated on April 8, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD