Caffeine Worsened Behavioral Disorders in Mice with Alzheimer’s

Cup of Coffee

Anxiety and Fear of the New Neophobia

According to a recent study published February 15, 2018, in Frontiers in Pharmacology, caffeine had a bad effect on mice that had been generated with Alzheimer’s disease and also on normal aging mice. Besides memory loss and cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s seniors have certain neuropsychiatric disorders called Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) such as anxiety, apathy, depression, bizarre behavior, agitation,  aggression, delusions, hallucinations, hyperactivity, sleep disturbances and fear of anything new neophobia. These BPSD symptoms got worse when the mice were given a low dose of caffeine over a long period of time that was equivalent to a human coffee drinker (about three cups a day).

Earlier Studies Suggested Coffee Might Prevent Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer’s Disease

Some previous studies had suggested that coffee and caffeine might have a beneficial effect on preventing cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. Caffeine has been shown in studies to help prevent cognitive decline because of the way it affects mood, arousal and concentration. This latest study was carried out by researchers in Barcelona, Spain at the Institute of Neuroscience of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in cooperation with the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The study involved two groups of mice. One group was made up of mice that had been generated to have Alzheimer’s disease and the other group consisted of normal aging mice. The results of this study show that the increase in intensity of the BPSD behavior disorders under the influence of caffeine in the Alzheimer’s mice outweighed any possible benefits for caffeine in preventing cognitive decline. Not only did caffeine have a worsening effect on the behavior of the Alzheimer’s mice, but caffeine also had a negative effect on the behavior of the normal aging mice.

Behavior Disorders are the Most Difficult to Handle

It is the BPSD behavior disorders that are the most difficult for caretakers and family members, as well as the demented senior to deal with, so if caffeine worsens them, then this is not going to really have a beneficial effect on the course of Alzheimer’s disease.

Caffeine is a Powerful Drug

The study also showed that caffeine found in coffee, tea, cola and chocolate is a powerful drug, even though there are no governmental controls over it. Caffeine is one of the most commonly used drugs all over the world with the average coffee drinker consuming 3-5 cups of coffee a day. Caffeine can affect locomotion, sleep and cardiovascular health. For instance, coffee is known for its ability to raise blood pressure. Low doses of caffeine (20-200 mg. a day), however, can have a positive effect on mood, promoting a feeling of well-being and self-confidence and leading to a desire for socialization.


Caffeine has been shown in past studies to be able to prevent or slow down cognitive decline, but previous researchers only examined this aspect of caffeine and not the total effects that caffeine has on dementia, including the effect it has on the neuropsychiatric behavior and psychological disorders of Alzheimer’s disease. These behavior disorders are the most difficult for the family, caretakers and the demented senior to deal with, so anything that is going to make these worse is not in the long run going to be considered to be beneficial in any way for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

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