Caffeine is implicated in many different health problems. It is a diuretic causing loss of potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc and other minerals and B vitamins (thiamine and Vitamin C).
Caffeine raised blood pressure in sensitive people. It increases the consumption of alcohol. It overstimulate the adrenal glands causing hypo-function and fatigue.
As the population ages, there is a critical need to uncover strategies to combat diseases of aging. Studies in the soil-dwelling nematode Caenorhabditis elegans have demonstrated the protective effects of coffee extract and caffeine in promoting the induction of conserved longevity pathways including the insulin-like signaling pathway and the oxidative stress response.
Protein homeostasis or ‘proteostasis‘ is the process that regulates proteins within the cell in order to maintain the health of both the cellular proteome and the organism itself.
This means our normal cells and parasites are protected from aging from coffee and caffeine.
C Elegans is a roundworms and threadworms, a phylum of smooth-skinned, unsegmented worms with a long cylindrical body shape tapered at the ends; includes free-living and parasitic forms both aquatic and terrestrial.
We were interested in determining the effects of coffee and caffeine treatment on the regulation of the heat shock response. The heat shock response is a highly conserved cellular response that functions as a cytoprotective mechanism during stress, mediated by the heat shock transcription factor HSF-1. In the worm, HSF-1 not only promotes protection against stress but is also essential for development and longevity.
Induction of the heat shock response has been suggested to be beneficial for diseases of protein conformation by preventing protein misfolding and aggregation, and as such has been proposed as a therapeutic target for age-associated neurodegenerative disorders.
In this study, we demonstrate that coffee is a potent, dose-dependent, inducer of the heat shock response. Treatment with a moderate dose of pure caffeine was also able to induce the heat shock response, indicating caffeine as an important component within coffee for producing this response.
The effects that we observe with both coffee and pure caffeine on the heat shock response are both dependent on HSF-1. In a C. elegans Huntington’s disease model, worms treated with caffeine were protected from polyglutamine aggregates and toxicity, an effect that was also HSF-1-dependent.
In conclusion, these results demonstrate caffeinated coffee, and pure caffeine, as protective substances that promote proteostasis through induction of the heat shock response.