International Hepatology

Caffeine, a drug for all seasons
Bruce N. Cronstein*
NYU School of Medicine, 550 First Ave., NBV16N1, New York, NY 10016, USA

COMMENTARY ON: Increased caffeine consumption is associated with reduced hepatic fibrosis. Apurva A. Modi, Jordan J. Feld, Yoon Park, David E. Kleiner, James E. Everhart, T. Jake Liang, Jay H. Hoofnagle. Hepatology, 2010 Jan;51(1):201–9. CopyrightÓ 2009 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Ó 2010 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Although coffee consumption has been associated with reduced frequency of liver disease, it is unclear whether the effect is from coffee or caffeine and whether there is an effect on hepatic fibrosis specifically. This study was undertaken to use a food-frequency instrument for dietary caffeine consumption to evaluate the relationship between caffeine intake and liver fibrosis. Patients undergoing liver biopsy completed a detailed caffeine questionnaire on three occasions over a 6-month period. Caffeine intake was compared between patients with mild and advanced liver fibrosis (bridging fibrosis/cirrhosis). Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between caffeine consumption and hepatic fibrosis. One hundred seventy-seven patients (99 male, 104 white, 121 with chronic hepatitis C virus [HCV] infection) undergoing liver biopsy completed the caffeine questionnaire on up to three occasions. Results from repeated questionnaires were consistent. Daily caffeine consumption above the 75th percentile for the cohort (308 mg = approximately 2.25 cups of coffee equivalents) was associated with reduced liver fibrosis (odds ratio [OR], 0.33; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.14–0.80; p = 0.015) and the protective association persisted after controlling for age, sex, race, liver disease, body mass index, and alcohol intake in all patients (OR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.09–0.67; p = 0.006), as well as the subset with HCV infection (OR, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.05–0.66; p = 0.009). Despite a modest trend, consumption of caffeine from sources other than coffee or decaffeinated coffee was not associated with reduced liver fibrosis. A reliable tool for measurement of caffeine consumption demonstrated that caffeine consumption, particularly from regular coffee, above a

Keywords: Adenosine; Adenosine receptors; Caffeine; Methylxanthines. Received 3 February 2010; received in revised form 16 February 2010; accepted 18 February 2010 * Tel.: +1 212 263 6404; fax: +1 212 263 1048. E-mail address:

threshold of approximately 2 coffee-cup equivalents per day, was associated with less severe hepatic fibrosis. Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world and the most common caffeine delivery vehicle is coffee. Additional vehicles for caffeine delivery include carbonated soft drinks and ‘‘energy drinks.” Interestingly, high doses of caffeine are banned from competitive sports as a performance enhancing drug, caffeine is included in a number of over-the-counter pain relievers and there are at least four psychiatric diagnoses associated with caffeine use. Thus, it comes as quite a surprise to most people that drinking coffee is associated with diminished mortality and that protection from death due to liver disease is the best documented contributor to reduced mortality. Although caffeine is the most extensively characterized pharmacologic agent in coffee, there are other active agents as well, and it has been difficult to capitalize on the hepatoprotective qualities of coffee without knowing which ingredient mediates the protective effect. The recent demonstration by Modi and colleagues [1] that caffeine appears to protect from severe liver fibrosis in a case control study of patients seen at the NIH for treatment of chronic liver disease, primarily hepatitis C, offers at least a partial explanation for the protective effects of coffee. In their study Modi and coworkers observed that patients who consumed more than the 75th percentile of caffeine for the cohort (about 300 mg/day which is equivalent to the caffeine found in 2.25 cups of coffee) were significantly less likely to have severe hepatic fibrosis as defined by Ishak stage P3 (OR 0.33). Evidence for a protective effect of caffeine persisted even after correction for age, sex, race, type of liver disease, body mass index, and alcohol ingestion (OR 0.25); and the protective effect was no less marked in the patients with HCV infection (OR 0.19). Although prior work had suggested that other agents (kahwol and cafestol) found in coffee might afford protection from hepatic fibrosis by altering the expression of hepatic enzymes involved in activation of agents (e.g. CCl4) that cause fibrosis in animals [2], the authors were unaware of prior work indicating the direct effects of caffeine on hepatic fibrosis in vivo. In this series, coffee was the greatest single source of caffeine and other sources contributed far less caffeine. Because coffee was the dominant source of caffeine in this group of patients, there was only a trend towards an impact for the contribution of other sources of caffeine toward the protection from fibrosis. The pharmacologic properties of caffeine have been explored for many years and a variety of different pharmacologic mechanisms have been ascribed to caffeine. The most well known and better understood pharmacologic effect of caffeine is the antagonism of adenosine receptors. Adenosine receptors were first

Journal of Hepatology 2010 vol. 53 j 207–208

45:2118–2125. Stock: CanFite Biopharmaceuticals received for membership in Scientific Advisory Board. In the liver. Pharmacological application of caffeine inhibits TGF-beta-stimulated connective tissue growth factor expression in hepatocytes via PPARgamma and SMAD2/3-dependent pathways. [7] Chan ES. AP IJ. AR56672). Siluschek M. Choi JH. Inc. Yee H.7]. Weiskirchen R. XXV. Adenosine A2A receptor occupancy stimulates collagen expression by hepatic stellate cells via pathways involving protein kinase A.148:1144–1155. Kleiner DE. Adenosine signaling contributes to ethanol-induced fatty liver in mice. Borea PA. Yee H. International Union of Pharmacology. Lahme B. Acknowledgements This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (AR54897.53:527–552. Fernandez P. Although hypoxia is the most well known stimulus for increasing extracellular adenosine levels. Dranoff JA. Yee H. Br J Pharmacol 2006. Hepatoprotective and antioxidant effects of the coffee diterpenes kahweol and cafestol on carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in mice. Endocyte. OSI Pharmaceuticals and the Vilcek Foundation. Wilder T. Liang TJ.72:1626–1636. Adenosine A2A receptors are expressed in hepatic stellate cells and hepatocytes where they directly stimulate collagen production and induce activation of TGFb and stimulate CTGF production by hepatocytes [8–10].. et al. [2] Lee KJ. Feld JJ. we and others have used a combination of specific adenosine receptor antagonists and adenosine receptor knockout mice to demonstrate a critical role for adenosine A2A receptors in murine models of hepatic fibrogenesis [5. Cronstein BN. Food Chem Toxicol 2007. Fernandez P. Caffeine reduces fibrosis by blocking adenosine A2A receptors. Protalex. and extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2 signaling cascade or p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway. Cronstein holds or has filed applications for patents on the use of adenosine A2A receptor agonists to promote wound healing and use of A2A receptor antagonists to inhibit fibrosis. [3] Sattin A. Roche Pharmaceuticals.6:13–23. presumably. Thus. [9] Che J. J Clin Invest 2009. Chan ES. Pharmacol Rev 2001. Moreover. Tap (Takeda) Pharmaceuticals. CanFite Biopharmaceuticals. all four adenosine receptors are expressed in human liver and the expression of adenosine A2A and A2B receptors is markedly increased in cirrhotic and steatotic livers [6]. [10] Hashmi AZ. Kyowa Hakka. the demonstration by Modi and colleagues [1] that caffeine ingestion prevents advanced liver fibrosis provides further supportive evidence for a role for adenosine receptors in hepatic fibrosis. Increased caffeine consumption is associated with reduced hepatic fibrosis. the use of adenosine A1 and A2B Receptor antagonists to treat fatty liver. Ecto-50 nucleotidase (CD73) -mediated extracellular adenosine production plays a critical role in hepatic fibrosis. Park Y. et al. Interestingly. Klotz KN.119:582–594. [6] Peng Z. and. Adenosine receptors are ubiquitous in their expression and they regulate a large number of physiologic functions. J Hepatol 2008. Hakim W. Chiriboga L.50 -phosphate content of guinea pig cerebral cortex slices. all of which are members of the G protein coupled family of receptors [4]. Consultant (within the past two years) King Pharmaceutical (licensee of patents on wound healing and fibrosis above). Savient Pharmaceuticals.51:201–209. Sepracor. use of adenosine A1 receptor antagonists to treat osteoporosis and other diseases of bone. Montesinos MC. adenosine is released as a result of the exposure to toxins. Delano DL. Cellzome. Adenosine is a short-lived but abundant purine nucleoside that is released as a result of adenine nucleotide catabolism. and it has subsequently become clear that there are four different types of adenosine receptors (A1. Adenosine A(2A) receptors play a role in the pathogenesis of hepatic cirrhosis. blocking adenosine receptor-mediated fibrosis [7]. FASEB J 2008. the use of adenosine A2A receptor agonists to prevent prosthesis loosening. including ethanol and the hepatic fibrosing agents CCl4 and thioacetamide [5]. Hepatology 2010. et al. Honoraria/ Speakers’ Bureaus: Tap (Takeda) Pharmaceuticals. caffeine itself prevented hepatic fibrosis in response to CCl4 and thioacetamide by. stimulates hepatic fibrosis via A2A receptors on hepatocytes and stellate cells. Indeed. References [1] Modi AA. Rall TW. The effect of adenosine and adenine nucleotides on the cyclic adenosine 30 . Mol Pharmacol 2007. Wilder T. [5] Peng Z. Prometheus Laboratories. et al. Blackburn MR. A2A. Recent work from our laboratory has demonstrated that adenosine and its receptors (A1 and A2B receptors) play a central role in the development of hepatic steatosis in mice that chronically ingest high doses of ethanol [6]. In prior work. A2B and A3). Amgen. Everhart JE. Jeong HG. Regeneron (Westat. Fig. Adenosine inhibits cytosolic calcium signals and chemotaxis in hepatic stellate cells. Chan ES. Adenosine. Watanabe A. Desai A.International Hepatology adenosine receptor antagonists with more favorable pharmacokinetics might offer even greater protection from the development of hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis (Fig. Rehbein K. 1). Jacobson KA. 1.22:2263–2272.49:758–767. [4] Fredholm BB.292:G395–G401. Mol Pharmacol 1970. et al. Bristol-Myers Squibb. Nomenclature and classification of adenosine receptors. described by Sattin and Rall [3].Combinatorx. generated primarily extracellularly from adenine nucleotides. Watkins W. Linden J. it has long been acknowledged that other types of cellular injury also induce adenosine release as adenine nucleotides are turned over and released. DSMB). 53 j 207–208 . [8] Gressner OA. Kruglov EA. these findings suggest that more selective 208 Journal of Hepatology 2010 vol. Disclosures Dr. Allos. Gressner AM. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2007. Chiriboga L. Src.

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