Caffeine Prevents Multiple Sclerosis Like Disease in Mice

Caffeine has been seen to prevent a multiple sclerosis-like disease from developing in experiments with mice. According to an article from the Science Daily website, researchers from Cornell University gave caffeine equal to drinking six to eight cups of coffee in human terms daily to a mice model and protected them from developing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis or EAE, the multiple sclerosis type disease in mice.

Caffeine is widely known adenosine receptor blocker. It is this effect of caffeine that led researcher to believe to make it effective in preventing the development of EAE in mice. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks and does some damage to the body’s central nervous system, notably the nerves in the brain and the spinal cord. The scientists believe that the infiltration of the immune cells into the central nervous system is associated with molecules of adenosine in the body.

Adenosine is a compound widely present in the body that is known to play an important role in the various biochemical processes such as energy transfer, suppression of arousal and sleep promotion. The researchers from Cornell University found out that mice that lacked the enzyme CD73 which was necessary to synthesize extracellular adenosine in the body seem to be protected from developing EAE, the mouse form of multiple sclerosis. Further studies indicated that the said enzyme’s ability to synthesize extracellular adenosine plays an important role in the development and progression of EAE in mice. This helped explain the presence of adenosine near the cells in the central nervous system.

In order for adenosine to affect a cell, it first has to bind to its receptor in order for it to help the immune cells to gain entry into the central nervous system. To test this idea out, the researchers turned to caffeine, a known adenosine receptor blocker. The caffeine has the ability to bind into the same receptors as adenosine, thereby blocking the compound’s ability to affect the cells in the central nervous system. Mice that was given caffeine in their drinking water showed protection from developing EAE.

The results of the study, according to Dr. Jeffrey H. Mills, a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory headed by Dr. Margaret S. Bynoe, the results of the study may be the first step on a series of studies that may lead to the development of adenosine-based therapies for treating multiple sclerosis in the near future.



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