Epidemiological studies indicate that the consumption of caffeine, the most commonly ingested psychoactive substance found in coffee, tea or soft drinks, reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). Previous treatment studies with transgenic AD mouse models reported a reduced amyloid plaque load and an amelioration of behavioral deficits. It has been further shown that moderate doses of caffeine have the potential to attenuate the health burden in preclinical mouse models of a variety of brain disorders (reviewed in Cunha in J Neurochem 139:1019-1055, 2016). In the current study, we assessed whether long-term caffeine consumption affected hippocampal neuron loss and associated behavioral deficits in the Tg4-42 mouse model of AD. Treatment over a 4-month period reduced hippocampal neuron loss, rescued learning and memory deficits, and ameliorated impaired neurogenesis. Neuron-specific RNA sequencing analysis in the hippocampus revealed an altered expression profile distinguished by the up-regulation of genes linked to synaptic function and processes, and to neural progenitor proliferation. Treatment of 5xFAD mice, which develop prominent amyloid pathology, with the same paradigm also rescued behavioral deficits but did not affect extracellular amyloid-β (Aβ) levels or amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing. These findings challenge previous assumptions that caffeine is anti-amyloidogenic and indicate that the promotion of neurogenesis might play a role in its beneficial effects.
Keywords: 5xFAD; Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid; Behavior; Caffeine; Neurogenesis; RNA sequencing; Tg4-42; Transcriptome; Transgenic mice.
© 2021. The Author(s).