MIAMI, July 6 (UPI) -- Memory impairment was reversed in aged mice, bred to develop symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, after they were given caffeine, U.S. researchers said.
Researchers at the University of South Florida said back-to-back studies show caffeine significantly decreased abnormal levels of the protein linked to Alzheimer's disease -- both in the brains and in the blood of mice exhibiting symptoms of the disease.
Both studies build upon previous research by the University of South Florida that showed caffeine in early adulthood prevented the onset of memory problems in mice bred to develop Alzheimer's symptoms in old age.
"The new findings provide evidence that caffeine could be a viable 'treatment' for established Alzheimer's disease, and not simply a protective strategy," lead author Gary Arendash said in a statement. "That's important because caffeine is a safe drug for most people, it easily enters the brain, and it appears to directly affect the disease process."
The Alzheimer's mice received the equivalent of five 8-oz. cups of regular coffee a day -- 500 milligrams of caffeine.
In the study, half of the 55 mice genetically altered to develop memory problems mimicking Alzheimer's disease were given caffeine, and half were given water. At the end of the two-month study, the caffeinated mice performed much better on tests measuring their memory and thinking skills.
The study was published online in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.