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Is Coffee Consumption Associated with Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease?

SEVERAL metabolites in the blood have been analysed, with their levels altered by coffee consumption, and an association with developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) uncovered. This research is of great interest considering the large populations who drink significant amounts of coffee. Scrutinising these metabolites in line with further research could guide processes to prevent kidney disease through dietary modification. 

This research led by Casey Rebholz, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, involved examination of 372 blood metabolites from 3,811 participants in a prospective community-based cohort. Investigation of this dataset found 41 metabolites were associated with coffee consumption, supported by 20 of these same metabolites being found to be associated with coffee consumption in an additional community-based long-term epidemiological study on 1,043 adults. The highest interaction with CKD was concordant with high levels of three coffee-related metabolites: glycochenodeoxychocolate, O-methylcatechol sulfate, and 3-methyl catechol sulfate.  

Glycochenodeoxycholate is a lipid involved in primary bile acid metabolism and contributes to the potential beneficial effects of coffee consumption on kidney health. Meanwhile O-methylcatechol sulfate and 3-methyl catechol sulfate are involved in the metabolism of the preservative benzoate and may represent the harmful aspects of coffee on the kidneys.  

Rebholz described their findings: “A large body of scientific evidence has suggested that consuming a moderate amount of coffee is consistent with a healthy diet. We were able to identify one metabolite that supports this theory.” He went on to explain the newly discovered negative implications: “There were 2 other metabolites associated with coffee that surprisingly were associated with a higher risk of incident chronic kidney disease. These compounds were also associated with cigarette smoking, which may in part explain why these compounds were associated with higher risk of kidney disease.” 

Investigators will hope that future research is facilitated by these findings, aiding analysis of the metabolic underpinnings of the relationship between coffee and the kidneys. Upcoming studies are warranted to include results on metabolites associated with CKD after accounting for participants self-reporting their consumption of coffee. According to the authors, this would provide great insight and “a better understanding of the role coffee and other diet factors play in the development of CKD.”