Perspective from Vikas Kotagal, MD
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
May 08, 2020
3 min read

High caffeine intake, urate levels linked to lower Parkinson’s disease risk

Perspective from Vikas Kotagal, MD
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Higher levels of caffeine intake and plasma urate were associated with a lower risk for developing Parkinson’s disease, according to research published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

“Both caffeine and urate possess neuroprotective properties via adenosine receptor antagonist and antioxidant actions, respectively," Rachit Bakshi, PhD, assistant professor in the department of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a press release.

He explained that both caffeine and urate had previously shown protective properties in animal models of Parkinson’s disease.

Bakshi and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional, case-control study of participants in the Harvard Biomarkers Study, a longitudinal study that aims to identify and validate markers of Parkinson’s disease. The researchers assessed participants’ caffeine intake through questionnaires and urate levels through plasma samples that were collected at their first visit after enrollment.

A total of 369 patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease and 197 healthy controls were evaluated in the study.

The researchers found that the odds of developing Parkinson’s disease significantly decreased with caffeine consumption. Those with the highest levels of caffeine intake had a 71% lower prevalence of Parkinson’s disease compared with participants who had the lowest levels of caffeine intake (OR = 0.289; 95% CI, 0.15-0.55).

Higher urate levels were also associated with a decreased risk for developing Parkinson’s disease. Bakshi and colleagues found that among participants with the highest level of urates, the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease was 69% lower than those with the lowest urate levels (OR = 0.314; 95% CI, 0.14-0.69).

The results were similar in a gender-stratified analysis, according to the researchers.

Bakshi and colleagues noted that the association between urate and Parkinson’s disease risk in women contradict findings from previous studies.

“The biological mechanisms underlying such sex specificity remain unclear,” they wrote.

In the press release, the researchers warned that a recent trial failed to demonstrate a benefit of urate-elevating treatment in patients with Parkinson’s disease over the course of months and years. Therefore, they noted that while their study contributes to evidence supporting a link between Parkinson’s disease and lower urate levels, efforts to elevate urate levels are not currently recommended.

Similarly, they noted that more study is needed on the effects of caffeine in a long-term Parkinson’s disease trial before recommending that patients increase their consumption.

However, Bakshi noted in the release that “identifying factors that are linked to lower likelihood of [Parkinson’s disease], such as caffeine consumption, offer a unique opportunity to understand the disease, and if the link were causal, then possibly to slow the disease.” – by Erin Michael

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.