Researchers have uncovered a new biomarker that may help in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease: caffeine.
According to a study, published in the journal Neurology, examining the level of caffeine in the blood could help detect the neurodegenerative disease early.
“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 Shinji Saiki, MD, the study’s author.
The study began by analyzing 108 participants with a history of Parkinson’s disease, along with another 31 participants, of which did not have the disease. All participants were studied for an estimated six years.
Researchers initiated tests to measure caffeine in the blood, in addition to 11 byproducts that contribute to the metabolism of caffeine. During the study, both groups of participants consumed the same amount of caffeine — two cups of coffee each day.
The findings reveal that participants with Parkinson’s disease had significantly lower traces of caffeine in the blood.
The average caffeine level found was 79 picomoles per 10 microliters for participants without the disease. Meanwhile, the caffeine level for the group with Parkinson’s was 24 picomoles per 10 microliters.
“The profile of serum caffeine and metabolite levels was identified as a potential diagnostic biomarker by receiver operating characteristic curve analysis,” according to the results.
“Absolute lower levels of caffeine and caffeine metabolite profiles are promising diagnostic biomarkers for early PD. This is consistent with the neuroprotective effect of caffeine previously revealed by epidemiologic and experimental studies,” the study concluded.