Coffee for Dupuytren?

A recent study reported possible beneficial effects of caffeine on Dupuytren biology link. There was 2011 study which reported similar results with forskolin, which affects the same cell chemistry as caffeine link. Based on this, the possible use of caffeine was discussed in the Dupuytren Foundation blog in 2011 link.

Let’s look at two points in more detail.

The first point is what effects the studies actually show. The 2011 study reported the effect of forskolin on genetic activity: gene expression. The 2016 report describes the effect of caffeine on cell movement (reduced) and contraction (no effect). There are definite effects on Dupuytren cell biology, but not enough to know how much effect this would have on a Dupuytren hand. Very interesting. More work to do.

The second point is what dose of caffeine was used. The 2016 study reported effects from 5 of millimoles of caffeine per liter (5mM caffeine). Doesn’t sound like much – but is it? In humans, caffeine toxicity occurs with serum levels in the range of 20 – 30 micrograms per milliliter (20 – 30 mcg/ml). To see how much caffeine was used in the recent study, millimoles per liter must be converted to micrograms per milliliter. Here’s the math: (5 millimoles caffeine/liter) X (1 mole/1000 millimoles) X (194.19 grams caffeine/1 mole caffeine) X (1 liter/1000 ml) X (1,000,000 mcg/1 gram) = 970.95 mcg caffeine/ml. That’s thirty to fifty times enough caffeine to make you ill. So… coffee alone may not be the answer, but there may be another option. Caffeine is absorbed through the skin. It might be possible for topical caffeine to give the skin high caffeine levels without giving the body high caffeine levels. Is there a sweet spot of enough caffeine in the palm but not too much for the rest of the body? Does topical caffeine make it all the way through the skin, through the fat under the skin and into the fascia a centimeter below the surface? Is 5mM caffeine needed, or would a lower dose work just as well? More work to do.

In the meantime, I’m going to have a cup of coffee.



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