The caffeine levels in the blood may help play a determining role in detecting Parkinson's disease, says a new study. Results of this study were published on 3rd January 2018 and said that people who were diagnosed with Parkinson's had lower caffeine levels in their blood as compared to the rest. This was not affected by the amount of caffeine consumed by any individual.
While there have been several studies in the past which has shown the link between caffeine and a lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease, not many have shown how caffeine metabolises within the people with the disease and its ramifications, said the researchers.
For the study, the team analysed 108 people who had had Parkinson's for an average of about six years and 31 people of the same age group who did not have the disease. Their blood was tested for caffeine and for 11 by-products the body makes as it metabolises caffeine. Further, they were also tested for mutations in genes that can affect caffeine metabolism.
David G Munoz from the University of Toronto, Canada, was the author of an editorial which accompanied this study. This is important because this disease is hard to diagnose in its early stages, "said Dr. David Munoz of the University of Toronto". Prior to testing the caffeine levels, each of the two groups of people were administered the same amount of caffeine at the same time.
On the other hand, caffeine cannot show the severity of the disease, because those patients who are at a more advanced stage do not have even lower levels of caffeine in their blood. "This is important because Parkinson's disease is hard to diagnose, especially at the early stages". The caffeine level was an average of 79 picomoles per 10 microliters for people without Parkinson's disease, compared to 24 picomoles per 10 microliters for people with the disease.
But the people with Parkinson's disease had significantly lower blood levels of caffeine and nine of the 11 byproducts of caffeine in the blood. For one of the byproducts, the level was below the amount that could be detected in more than half of the people with Parkinson's.
Researchers found that this test could be used for identifying people suffering from this disease. The score was 0.98 where the score 1 meant that the cases had been identified the right way.
In the genetic analysis, there were no differences in the caffeine-related genes between the two groups. However the study had its limitations too. Munoz also noted that all of the people with Parkinson's were taking medication and it's possible that these drugs could affect the metabolism of caffeine.