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J Ren Nutr. 2007 Jul;17(4):225-34.

Caffeine and the kidney: what evidence right now?

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Messina, Messina, Italy.


Caffeine, or 1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine, is one of the most frequently consumed active drugs worldwide. Its main mechanisms of action include inhibiting the phosphodiesteratic enzyme and adenosine receptors and activating the ryanodine receptors with several actions on all organs. What effect does caffeine have on the kidney? Is caffeine beneficial or dangerous? A review of the current literature reveals conflicting opinions regarding the prolithiasic effect of this substance, whereas its diuretic action is least disputed and more easily observed. Caffeine may have a toxic or preventive effect in some physiologic or pathologic conditions. Some of these incongruences may depend on several factors, such as dosage, prior chronic exposure, genetic-enzymatic axes, and concomitant drug consumption. While awaiting further insight from forthcoming studies on the issue, we may reach a preliminary conclusion that, as yet, there is no evidence contraindicating the consumption of the equivalent of 3 to 4 cups of coffee per day in healthy or nephropathic subjects. However, particular attention should be paid to the elderly, children, and patients on concomitant treatment with analgesics or diuretics, whereas in subjects with a family or clinical history of calcium lithiasis a moderate caffeine consumption should be associated with an adequate fluid intake. Further in-depth studies are required to investigate whether this beverage is beneficial to patients on hemodialysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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