Study: four cups of coffee protects the heart

Posted Jul 1, 2018 by Tim Sandle
A new study finds that caffeine, at the level equivalent to four standard cups of coffee, protects the heart with the added help of mitochondria.
A  cup of coffee
A cup of coffee
The research indicates that the caffeine concentration promotes the movement of a regulatory protein into mitochondria. This enhances their function could protecting cardiovascular cells from damage. The suggestion that caffeine at this level could be of physiological relevance comes from a science collaboration between Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine-University and the IUF-Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Duesseldorf, Germany.
The research builds upon earlier studies that demonstrate how certain concentrations of caffiene, described as "physiologically relevant" can improve the functional capacity of endothelial cells. By "physiologically relevant", this refers to the levels equivalent to four or more cups of coffee.
Endothelial cells line the interior of blood vessels and they play a wide variety of critical roles in the control of vascular function. The important effect is also linked to the mitochondria, these are the parts of cells that turn sugars, fats and proteins that we eat, into forms of chemical energy that the body can use to carry on living. A mitochondrion is often described as a 'powerhouse' of the cell.
The new research, as Forbes reports, demonstrates that a protein termed p27, and an inhibitor of the cell cycle, is present in mitochondria in the major cell types of the heart. In these cells, mitochondrial p27 promotes the migration of endothelial cells and helps to protect heart muscle cells from cell death.
With caffeine, at the right concentration, this induces the movement of p27 into mitochondria, triggering a beneficial chain of events. It is important to note, however, that this effect of caffeine has only been tested out in pre-diabetic, obese mice, and in aged mice. The same effects may not necessarily occur in humans and further study will be required.
The new research is published in the journal of the Public Library of Science. The peer review paper is titled "CDKN1B/p27 is localized in mitochondria and improves respiration-dependent processes in the cardiovascular system—New mode of action for caffeine."