Drink up – caffeine from four cups of coffee protects the heart with the help of mitochondria.
A new study shows that a caffeine concentration equivalent to four cups of coffee promotes the movement of a regulatory protein into mitochondria, enhancing their function and protecting cardiovascular cells from damage.
Caffeine consumption is already associated with lower risks for multiple diseases, including type II diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, but the mechanism underlying these protective effects has been unclear. A new study now shows that caffeine promotes the movement of a regulatory protein into mitochondria, enhancing their function and protecting cardiovascular cells from damage.
Judith Haendeler and Joachim Altschmied of the Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine-University and the IUF-Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Duesseldorf, Germany, have published the study in PLOS Biology, finding that the protective effect was reached at a concentration equivalent to consumption of four cups of coffee, suggesting the effect may be physiologically relevant.
The authors have previously shown that at physiologically relevant concentrations (i.e. levels reached after four or more cups of coffee) caffeine improved the functional capacity of endothelial cells, which line the interior of blood vessels, and that the effect involved mitochondria, the cell’s energy powerhouses.
“Our results indicate a new mode of action for caffeine,” said Haendeler, “one that promotes protection and repair of heart muscle through the action of mitochondrial. These results should lead to better strategies for protecting heart muscle from damage, including consideration of coffee consumption or caffeine as an additional dietary factor in the elderly population. Furthermore, enhancing mitochondrial could serve as a potential therapeutic strategy not only in cardiovascular diseases but also in improving health span,” she went on to say.