Caffeine protects Alzheimer's mice against cognitive impairment and reduces brain β-amyloid production

G. W. Arendash, W. Schleif, K. Rezai-Zadeh, E. K. Jackson, L. C. Zacharia, J. R. Cracchiolo, D. Shippy, J. Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A recent epidemiological study suggested that higher caffeine intake over decades reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The present study sought to determine any long-term protective effects of dietary caffeine intake in a controlled longitudinal study involving AD transgenic mice. Caffeine (an adenosine receptor antagonist) was added to the drinking water of amyloid precursor protein, Swedish mutation (APPsw) transgenic (Tg) mice between 4 and 9 months of age, with behavioral testing done during the final 6 weeks of treatment. The average daily intake of caffeine per mouse (1.5 mg) was the human equivalent of 500 mg caffeine, the amount typically found in five cups of coffee per day. Across multiple cognitive tasks of spatial learning/reference memory, working memory, and recognition/identification, Tg mice given caffeine performed significantly better than Tg control mice and similar to non-transgenic controls. In both behaviorally-tested and aged Tg mice, long-term caffeine administration resulted in lower hippocampal β-amyloid (Aβ) levels. Expression of both Presenilin 1 (PS1) and β-secretase (BACE) was reduced in caffeine-treated Tg mice, indicating decreased Aβ production as a likely mechanism of caffeine's cognitive protection. The ability of caffeine to reduce Aβ production was confirmed in SweAPP N2a neuronal cultures, wherein concentration-dependent decreases in both Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42 were observed. Although adenosine A1 or A2A receptor densities in cortex or hippocampus were not affected by caffeine treatment, brain adenosine levels in Tg mice were restored back to normal by dietary caffeine and could be involved in the cognitive protection provided by caffeine. Our data demonstrate that moderate daily intake of caffeine may delay or reduce the risk of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)941-952
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2006


  • adenosine
  • BACE
  • learning
  • memory
  • PS1
  • transgenic mice


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