Caffeine effects on cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to acute psychosocial stress and their relationship to level of habitual caffeine consumption

Psychosom Med. 1990 May-Jun;52(3):320-36. doi: 10.1097/00006842-199005000-00006.


The effects of a moderate dose of caffeine on cardiovascular and neuroendocrine stress reactivity were examined in 25 healthy male subjects selected as habitual or light consumers of caffeine. Measurements were taken under resting conditions before and after administration of caffeine (3.5 mg/kg) or placebo, during a stressful laboratory task, and in a post-stress recovery period. Caffeine elevated blood pressure and plasma norepinephrine levels at rest, effects which added significantly to the effects of stress. Caffeine potentiated stress-related increases in plasma epinephrine and cortisol stress, more than doubling the responses observed in the control condition. These effects were present in both habitual and light consumers and level of habitual caffeine consumption did not affect their magnitude. Results indicate that caffeine can potentiate both cardiovascular and neuroendocrine stress reactivity and that the habitual use of caffeine is not necessarily associated with the development of tolerance to these effects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal / drug effects*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Social Environment*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*


  • Caffeine
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine