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Caffeine May Protect Blood Brain Barrier in Alzheimer's

Limits diet-induced changes to blood brain barrier breakdown in rabbit study

MONDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic caffeine ingestion appears to protect against disruptions in the blood brain barrier caused by a cholesterol-enriched diet in rabbits, suggesting that caffeine might be useful in Alzheimer's disease and other disorders characterized by breakdown of the blood brain barrier, according to research published April 3 in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

Xuesong Chen, Ph.D., of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D., and colleagues fed rabbits either a normal diet or a cholesterol-enriched diet with or without 3-mg caffeine/day added to their drinking water. After 12 weeks, histological, immunostaining and immunoblotting techniques were employed to evaluate the blood brain barrier, activation of astrocytes, and microglia density in the rabbits' olfactory bulbs.

The researchers found that caffeine protected the blood brain barrier against cholesterol-induced changes, blocking increases in extravasation of IgG and fibrinogen, leakage of dye, decreases in levels of tight junction proteins, and increases in astrocyte activation at sites of IgG extravasation. Caffeine did not affect plasma levels of total cholesterol.

"Since blood brain barrier disruption can compromise synaptic and neuronal function, our observation that caffeine protects against blood brain barrier disruption is consistent with the findings that caffeine intake protects against memory loss in aging and Alzheimer's disease," the authors conclude.

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