Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Two compounds found in coffee could fight Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia, a study says.
The findings, published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that fatty acid derivatives of the neurotransmitter serotonin that coats coffee beans, known as Eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide, or EHT, helped protect the brains of mice against abnormal protein accumulation linked to Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia.
Researchers from Rutgers University gave mice small amounts of both caffeine and EHT. Individually, each compound had no effect, but combined, they activated the portion of the rodents' brains that fights the build-up of proteins that cause Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia.
Current Parkinson's drugs only treat the disease's symptoms and not its underlying cause.
Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder affecting nearly one million people, that can lead to shakiness and problems walking, balance and coordination.
More than one million Americans have Lewy body dementia, a common form of the disease that causes thinking, behavior, mood and movement problems.
About 50 percent more men than women are affected by Parkinson's.
The research suggests that the caffeine and EHT combination could slow down or stop the development of Parkinson's and dementia.
Now the researchers say they need to do more work to establish the proper ratio of the two compounds.
"EHT is a compound found in various types of coffee but the amount varies," M. Maral Mouradian, director of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Institute for Neurological Therapeutics, said in a press release.
"It is important that the appropriate amount and ratio be determined so people don't over-caffeinate themselves, as that can have negative health consequences," she said.