Effects of caffeine on plasma renin activity, catecholamines and blood pressure

N Engl J Med. 1978 Jan 26;298(4):181-6. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197801262980403.


Using a double-blind, randomized, cross-over protocol, we studied the effect of a single dose of oral caffeine on plasma renin activity, catecholamines and cardiovascular control in nine healthy, young, non-coffee drinkers maintained in sodium balance throughout the study period. Caffeine (250 mg) or placebo was administered in a methylxanthine-free beverage to overnight-fasted supine subjects who had had no coffee, tea or cola in the previous three weeks. Caffeine increased plasma renin activity by 57 per cent, plasma norepinephrine by 75 per cent and plasma epinephrine by 207 per cent. Urinary normetanephrine and metanephrine were increased 52 per cent and 100 per cent respectively. Mean blood pressure rose 14/10 mm Hg one hour after caffeine ingestion. There was a slight fall and then a rise in heart rate. Plasma caffeine levels were usually maximal one hour after ingestion but there was considerable individual variation. A 20 per cent increase in respiratory rate correlated well with plasma caffeine levels. Under the conditions of study caffeine was a potent stimulator of plasma renin activity and adrenomedullary secretion. Whether habitual ingestion has similar effects remains to be determined.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage
  • Caffeine / blood
  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Epinephrine / blood*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / blood*
  • Normetanephrine / urine
  • Renin / blood*
  • Respiration / drug effects
  • Urine / analysis


  • Normetanephrine
  • Caffeine
  • Renin
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine