Coffee drinking has been implicated in mortality and a variety of diseases but potential mechanisms underlying these associations are unclear. Large-scale systems epidemiological approaches may offer novel insights to mechanisms underlying associations of coffee with health.
We performed an analysis of known and novel protein markers linked to cardiovascular disease and their association with habitual coffee intake in the Prospective Study of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS, n=816) and followed-up top proteins in the Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men (ULSAM, n=635) and EpiHealth (n=2418).
In PIVUS and ULSAM, coffee intake was measured by 7-day dietary records while a computer-based food frequency questionnaire was used in EpiHealth. Levels of up to 80 proteins were assessed in plasma by a proximity extension assay.
Four protein-coffee associations adjusted for age, sex, smoking and BMI, met statistical significance in PIVUS (FDR<5%, P<2.31×10-3 ): leptin (LEP), chitinase-3-like protein 1 (CHI3L), Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor 6 and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand. The inverse association between coffee intake and LEP replicated in ULSAM (β, -0.042 SD per cup of coffee, P=0.028) and EpiHealth (β, -0.025 SD per time of coffee, P=0.004). The negative coffee-CHI3L association replicated in EpiHealth (β, -0.07, P=1.15×10-7 ), but not in ULSAM (β, -0.034, P=0.16).
The current study supports an inverse association between coffee intake and plasma LEP and CHI3L1 levels. The coffee-CHI3L1 association is novel and warrants further investigation given links between CHI3L1 and health conditions that are also potentially influenced by coffee.