Acute effects of coffee on skin blood flow and microvascular function

Microvasc Res. 2017 Nov;114:58-64. doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2017.06.006. Epub 2017 Jun 15.


Objective: Studies on the acute effects of coffee on the microcirculation have shown contradicting results. This study aimed to investigate if intake of caffeine-containing coffee changes blood flow and microvascular reactivity in the skin.

Methods: We measured acute changes in cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC) in the forearm and the tip of the finger, the microvascular response to transdermal iontophoresis of acetylcholine (ACh) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP) and post-occlusive reactive hyperemia (PORH) in the skin, after intake of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee.

Results: Vasodilatation during iontophoresis of ACh was significantly stronger after intake of caffeinated coffee compared to after intake of decaffeinated coffee (1.26±0.20PU/mmHg vs. 1.13±0.38PU/mmHg, P<0.001). Forearm CVC before and after PORH were not affected by caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. After intake of caffeinated coffee, a more pronounced decrease in CVC in the fingertip was observed compared to after intake of decaffeinated coffee (-1.36PU/mmHg vs. -0.52PU/mmHg, P=0.002).

Conclusions: Caffeine, as ingested by drinking caffeinated coffee acutely improves endothelium-dependent microvascular responses in the forearm skin, while endothelium-independent responses to PORH and SNP iontophoresis are not affected. Blood flow in the fingertip decreases markedly during the first hour after drinking caffeinated coffee compared to decaffeinated coffee.

Keywords: Caffeine; Coffee; Laser Doppler flowmetry; Laser speckle contrast imaging; Microcirculation; Skin.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / administration & dosage
  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Coffee*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fingers
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Iontophoresis
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / drug effects*
  • Nitroprusside / administration & dosage
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Skin / blood supply*
  • Time Factors
  • Vasodilation / drug effects*
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Young Adult


  • Coffee
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitroprusside
  • Caffeine
  • Acetylcholine