You can find out more about NPF's National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun, by also visiting the NPF Center of Excellence, University of Florida Center for Movement Disorders & Neurorestoration.
There have been several recent studies suggesting that caffeine may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, however in this week’s edition of the journal Neurology, there is a new study suggesting that caffeine may be a reasonable treatment for the Parkinson’s disease motor symptoms. In this month’s What’s Hot column, I will review the scientific literature on caffeine and Parkinson’s disease, and also discuss the implications of the latest study.
The idea that caffeine may be important in Parkinson’s disease began with a series of epidemiological type of “risk factor” studies that in sum revealed a potentially reduced risk for Parkinson’s when caffeine intake was increased over a lifetime. Several large studies have carefully examined populations of patients, and all have uniformly concluded that higher caffeine intake seems to be closely associated with a reduced chance of developing Parkinson’s disease. These findings have important implications for the field.
Animal experiments have, like in human trials and epidemiological studies, revealed a potential caffeine benefit for Parkinson’s disease sufferers. The benefit is believed to be underpinned by caffeine’s action in blocking the adenosine A2A brain receptor. Several A2A blocking drugs have either been studied, or are currently being studied. In humans there have been several small studies and also anecdotal observations that support the idea that there is a mild to moderate caffeine benefit in Parkinson’s.
The latest study appeared in this week’s edition of the journal Neurology. Postuma and colleagues randomized 61 patients with Parkinson’s disease to caffeine or alternatively to a placebo. The investigators aimed to improve sleepiness, but caffeine failed to keep subjects more awake. However, on the UPDRS Parkinson’s disease motor scale, patients who received caffeine had an approximate 5 point improvement. The caffeine study was only performed for six weeks, the sample was extremely small, and it was hard to blind who got caffeine and who did not. The results should therefore be interpreted with caution, and will need to be replicated in a much larger study, presumably using a primary motor outcome.
These results suggest an intriguing symptomatic benefit. Since the results have been mirrored by several smaller studies, and also by the studies of adenosine A2 antagonists, patients should begin to pay attention to the link between caffeine and Parkinson’s disease.
What do these study results specifically mean for patients? The mild motor benefit of taking 100mg-200mg of caffeine twice daily seemed to be real. Patients wishing to benefit will need to be sure they track the amount of caffeine intake each day, and also remember that many things (e.g. tea, coffee, soft drinks) other than coffee may have caffeine content. Also, they should remember that the study did not examine higher dosages of caffeine, and it is possible that the effects on tremor and other symptoms could worsen at higher dosages. Finally, patients should be aware that in most studies participants develop tolerance to the effects of caffeine, and this could negate the benefits. The true importance of this most recent caffeine study will be in helping to spur the development of new drugs and new targets for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Posted: 8/2/2012 6:15:30 AM by
Browse current and archived What's Hot in PD? articles, the National Parkinson Foundation's monthly blog for people with Parkinson's written by our National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun.
IPX066 and What Patients Really Want in New Carbidopa/Levodopa (Sinemet) Formulations
The Weather Forecast for Parkinson’s Disease Calls for Worldwide Economic Storm
Defeating the Barriers to Implementing Exercise Regimens in Parkinson’s Disease Patients
When should you start medication therapy for Parkinson’s disease?
Neurologist Care Reduces Hospitalizations in Parkinson's Disease
A Victory in Court for Parkinson's Disease Patients who Require Ongoing Rehabilitative Therapies
Given the recent FDA announcement about Mirapex (pramipexole), should I be worried about dopamine agonists?
What about the new Parkinson’s Disease Vaccine? What should I know?
Caffeine as a Potential Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
Time to Consider GPi DBS for Parkinson’s Disease: A Shift in the Practice of Patient Selection for DBS
A New Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease-Related Constipation
Too Many Pills: Improving Delivery Systems for Parkinson’s Disease Drugs
Measuring Quality and Assessing Depression in Parkinson's Disease
Watch out for Unexpected Obstacles if You Use a Cueing Strategy to Break Freezing of Gait in Parkinson’s Disease
Pill Color, Generic Medications and Insurance Issues: Important Medication-Related Tips for the Parkinson’s Disease Patient
Are Blood Tests for Parkinson’s Disease on the Horizon?
Placing Stem Cells in Animal Models of Parkinson’s Disease: Another Important Step
Important News for the Parkinson’s Disease Community: More Evidence that Sinemet and Madopar are Not Toxic and do Not Accelerate Disease Progression
The Case for All Parkinson’s Disease Patients to be Co-managed by a Primary Care-Neurologist Team
Scientists say Research on Brain Proteins Involved in Parkinson’s Disease is “Shaping” Up
Who Actually Takes Care of Most of the Parkinson’s Patients Worldwide: The Need for Education and the Parkinson’s Toolkit
If you are Dizzy or Passing Out, it could be Your Parkinson’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease Medications
How Will Group Visits for Parkinson’s Disease Fit into the Future of Parkinson’s Disease Care?
Why Patients Should be Wary of Chelation Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease
Opening the Door to Gene Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease: The Need for Refinement of the Technology and Approach
Does it Matter if I Can’t Get Brand Sinemet?
Should I get a DaTscan or PET scan to confirm my diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease?
A Critical Reappraisal of the Worst Drugs in Parkinson’s Disease
Environmental Risks for PD: Manganese, Welding, Mining, and Parkinsonism
Calling for the FDA to Revise the Eight Sinemet a Day Rule
Dry Cleaning Solvents and Potential Environmental Risks for Developing Parkinson’s Disease
Maintaining the Balance: Why Parkinson’s Disease Patients Need to Understand Drug Recalls, Withdrawals, and Safety Alerts
Shining a Light on Parkinson’s Disease: Optogenetics Has a Bright Future in Research
Poor Medication Management of Parkinson's Disease During Hospital Admissions: Patients and Families Can Improve Their Hospital-Based Management
Why Are Patches and Continuous Release Technology a Big Deal to Parkinson's?
Is the PD SURG Trial Another Surge Forward for DBS Therapy?
Cycling in PD in Those Who Can’t Walk: Is it Possible?
New iPS Stem Cells for PD: What Does it Mean?
Time for Comprehensive Care Networks for PD
Is Parkinson's Disease a Prion Disease?
Parkinson's Disease Linked to Gaucher's Disease
Brain Cells Keep Time Stamps: Implications for Parkinson's Disease Therapies
Is it Safe to Have an MRI with a DBS in Place?
Take Care of Your Bones as They Are Affected in Parkinson's Disease (Even in Men)
Is it Time to Start Paying Attention to Pain Symptoms in Parkinson's Disease Patients?
Glutathione Fails to Demonstrate Significant Improvement in PD Symptoms
Keeping an Eye on Trials Important to the Parkinson's Disease Patient
Increased Risk of Melanoma in Parkinson's Disease
Finally a DBS Expert Consensus Statement Aimed at Their True Customers: The Patients
Pesticides and Environmental Exposure in Parkinson's disease: Should We Stay Away From the Stink Truck?
Is Exercise Effective Treatment and Protection Against PD?
Why are Transplant Trials Struggling to Succeed in the Treatment of PD?
Are Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors Disease Modifying or Neuroprotective in PD?
Update on Gene Therapy for Parkinson's Disease