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Coffee Protects the Heart with the Help of Mitochondria

By Milton Bertrand

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world; it is estimated with a yearly world average consumption of 1.1 kg per capita, which reaches 4.5 kg in industrialized countries [1]. More recently, caffeine consumption is associated with great health benefits; these benefits include a lower risk of death and getting heart disease compared with drinking no coffee. Coffee drinking is also associated with lower risk of some cancers, diabetes, liver disease and dementia, stroke, and others [1].

In an observational study conducted in humans at the University of South Florida (USF), Byrd Alzheimer's Institute, reported that daily coffee/caffeine intake during mid-life and in older age decreases the risk of Alzheimer's disease. The USF researchers' earlier studies in Alzheimer's mice indicated that caffeine was likely the ingredient in coffee that provides this protection because it decreases brain production of the abnormal protein beta-amyloid, which is thought to cause the disease. "Caffeinated coffee provides a natural increase in blood GCSF levels (granulocyte colony stimulating factor)," said USF neuroscientist Dr. Chuanhai Cao [1]. However, the mechanism that underlies these protective effects has been unclear to researchers.

A new study now shows that caffeine promotes the movement of a regulatory protein into mitochondria, enhancing their function and protecting cardiovascular cells from damage. Such study was published June 21, 2018 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, by Judith Haendeler and Joachim Altschmied and colleagues of the Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine-University and the IUF-Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Duesseldorf, Germany.  The researchers found that the protective effect was reached at a concentration equivalent to consumption of four cups of coffee, suggesting the effect may be physiologically relevant.

"Our results indicate a new mode of action for caffeine," said Haendeler, "one that promotes protection and repair of heart muscle through the action of mitochondrial p27. These results should lead to better strategies for protecting heart muscle from damage, including consideration of coffee consumption or caffeine as an additional dietary factor in the elderly population. Furthermore, enhancing mitochondrial p27 could serve as a potential therapeutic strategy not only in cardiovascular diseases but also in improving health span [4]."  

Here is the link to the recent publication.

Works Cited


"Coffee consumption and risk of cancers: a meta-analysis of cohort studies," [Online]. Available: https://www.geazle.com/documents/4/9/coffee-consumption-and-risk-of-cancers-a-meta-analysis-of-cohort-studies. [Accessed 22 June 2018].


"Drinking Coffee Has Great Health Benefits," [Online]. Available: https://www.geazle.com/articles/388/drinking-coffee-has-great-health-benefits. [Accessed 22 June 2018].


"Mystery Ingredient in Coffee Boosts Protection Against Alzheimer's Disease," [Online]. Available: https://www.geazle.com/cmspage/58/mystery-ingredient-in-coffee-boosts-protection-against-alzheimer-s-disease. [Accessed 22 June 2018].


"CDKN1B/p27 is localized in mitochondria and improves respiration-dependent processes in the cardiovascular system—New mode of action for caffeine," [Online]. Available: https://www.geazle.com/documents/4/139/cdkn1b-p27-is-localized-in-mitochondria-and-improves-respiration-dependent-processes-in-the-cardiovascular-system-new-mode-of-action-for-caffeine. [Accessed 22 June 2018].