Metabolites Associated with Coffee Consumption and Incident Chronic Kidney Disease

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2021 Nov;16(11):1620-1629. doi: 10.2215/CJN.05520421. Epub 2021 Nov 4.


Background and objectives: Moderate coffee consumption has been associated with lower risk of CKD; however, the exact biologic mechanisms underlying this association are unknown. Metabolomic profiling may identify metabolic pathways that explain the association between coffee and CKD. The goal of this study was to identify serum metabolites associated with coffee consumption and examine the association between these coffee-associated metabolites and incident CKD.

Design, setting, participants, & measurements: Using multivariable linear regression, we identified coffee-associated metabolites among 372 serum metabolites available in two subsamples of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study (ARIC; n=3811). Fixed effects meta-analysis was used to pool the results from the two ARIC study subsamples. Associations between coffee and metabolites were replicated in the Bogalusa Heart Study (n=1043). Metabolites with significant associations with coffee in both cohorts were then evaluated for their prospective associations with incident CKD in the ARIC study using Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results: In the ARIC study, mean (SD) age was 54 (6) years, 56% were daily coffee drinkers, and 32% drank >2 cups per day. In the Bogalusa Heart Study, mean (SD) age was 48 (5) years, 57% were daily coffee drinkers, and 38% drank >2 cups per day. In a meta-analysis of two subsamples of the ARIC study, 41 metabolites were associated with coffee consumption, of which 20 metabolites replicated in the Bogalusa Heart Study. Three of these 20 coffee-associated metabolites were associated with incident CKD in the ARIC study.

Conclusions: We detected 20 unique serum metabolites associated with coffee consumption in both the ARIC study and the Bogalusa Heart Study, and three of these 20 candidate biomarkers of coffee consumption were associated with incident CKD. One metabolite (glycochenodeoxycholate), a lipid involved in primary bile acid metabolism, may contribute to the favorable kidney health outcomes associated with coffee consumption. Two metabolites (O-methylcatechol sulfate and 3-methyl catechol sulfate), both of which are xenobiotics involved in benzoate metabolism, may represent potential harmful aspects of coffee on kidney health.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; coffee; metabolomics; nutrition; physiological phenomena.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Coffee / metabolism*
  • Drinking
  • Glycochenodeoxycholic Acid / blood*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Metabolomics
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Coffee
  • Glycochenodeoxycholic Acid