Caffeine level in blood may help diagnose people with Parkinson's disease

January 3, 2018, American Academy of Neurology
Immunohistochemistry for alpha-synuclein showing positive staining (brown) of an intraneural Lewy-body in the Substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease. Credit: Wikipedia

Testing the level of caffeine in the blood may provide a simple way to aid the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the January 3, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study found that people with Parkinson's had significantly lower levels of in their blood than people without the disease, even if they consumed the same amount of caffeine.

"Previous studies have shown a link between caffeine and a lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease, but we haven't known much about how caffeine metabolizes within the people with the disease," said study author Shinji Saiki, MD, Ph.D., of Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan.

People in the study with more severe stages of the disease did not have lower levels of caffeine in the blood, suggesting that the decrease occurs from the earliest stages of the disease, according to David G. Munoz, MD, of the University of Toronto in Canada, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

"If these results can be confirmed, they would point to an easy test for early diagnosis of Parkinson's, possibly even before symptoms are appearing," Munoz said. "This is important because Parkinson's disease is difficult to diagnose, especially at the early stages."

The study involved 108 people who had Parkinson's disease for an average of about six years and 31 people of the same age who did not have the disease. Their blood was tested for caffeine and for 11 byproducts the body makes as it metabolizes caffeine. They were also tested for mutations in genes that can affect caffeine metabolism.

The two groups consumed about the same amount of caffeine, with an average equivalent to about two cups of coffee per day. But the people with Parkinson's disease had significantly lower blood levels of caffeine and nine of the 11 byproducts of caffeine in the . The caffeine level was an average of 79 picomoles per 10 microliters for people without Parkinson's disease, compared to 24 picomoles per 10 microliters for people with the disease. For one of the byproducts, the level was below the amount that could be detected in more than 50 percent of the people with Parkinson's disease.

In the statistical analysis, the researchers found that the test could be used to reliably identify the people with Parkinson's disease, with a score of 0.98 where a score of 1 means that all cases are identified correctly.

In the genetic analysis, there were no differences in the caffeine-related genes between the two groups.

Limitations of the study include that people with severe Parkinson's disease were not included, which could affect the ability to detect an association between disease severity and caffeine levels. Munoz also noted that all of the people with Parkinson's were taking Parkinson's medication and it's possible that these drugs could affect the metabolism of caffeine.

Explore further: That cup of coffee may not relieve Parkinson's symptoms

Related Stories

That cup of coffee may not relieve Parkinson's symptoms

September 27, 2017
Contrary to previous research, caffeine may not relieve movement symptoms for people with Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the September 27, 2017, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

A cup of joe may help some Parkinson's disease symptoms

August 1, 2012
While drinking caffeine each day does not appear to help improve sleepiness among people with Parkinson's disease, it may have a benefit in controlling movement, according to new research published in the August 1, 2012, ...

High levels of urate in blood associated with lower risk of Parkinson's disease

January 13, 2016
Men who have high levels of urate, also known as uric acid, in their blood may be less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the Jan. 13, 2016, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal ...

Caffeine linked to lower risk of death in women with diabetes

September 13, 2017
Women with diabetes who regularly drink caffeinated coffee or tea may live longer than those who don't consume caffeine at all, according to new research being presented at this year's European Association for the Study of ...

Java gene study links caffeine metabolism to coffee consumption behavior

October 18, 2016
Depending on a person's genetic make-up, he or she might be able to guzzle coffee right before bed or feel wired after just one cup, based on continuing research at Northwestern Medicine.

Recommended for you

New transgenic model of Parkinson's illuminates disease biology

October 11, 2018
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that presents clinically with abnormal movement and tremors at rest. In the brain, PD is marked by the accumulation of the protein, α-synuclein (αS), into clumps ...

Early Parkinson's patients waiting too long to seek medical evaluation

September 27, 2018
The time between diagnosis and the institution of symptomatic treatment is critical in the effort to find a cure for Parkinson's Disease (PD). A paper published in Nature Partner Journal: Parkinson's Disease notes too many ...

Molecule capable of halting and reverting neurodegeneration caused by Parkinson's disease identified

September 25, 2018
The small SynuClean-D molecule interrupts the formation of the alpha-synuclein amyloid fibres responsible for the onset of Parkinson's disease, and reverts the neurodegeneration caused by the disease. The study, headed by ...

Genomic dark matter activity connects Parkinson's and psychiatric diseases

September 20, 2018
Dopamine neurons are located in the midbrain, but their tendril-like axons can branch far into the higher cortical areas, influencing how we move and how we feel. New genetic evidence has revealed that these specialized cells ...

Gene therapy shown to remove core component of Parkinson's disease

September 14, 2018
An international team led by Rush researcher Jeffrey Kordower, Ph.D., has moved a step closer to developing a treatment to clear brain cells of a protein that is an integral cause of Parkinson's disease. The team published ...

ADHD may increase risk of Parkinson's disease and similar disorders

September 12, 2018
While about 11 percent of children (4-17 years old) nationwide have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the long-term health effects of having ADHD and of common ADHD medications remains understudied. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.