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How Green Tea May Fight Inflammation
 

SAN DIEGO (Reuters Health) - Studies have suggested that green tea has anti-inflammatory properties and new research may help explain why.

Previous animal studies and other laboratory research have found that chemicals in green tea known as polyphenols act as anti-inflammatory agents, but the mechanism behind this action was not well understood.

Now, Ohio researchers have found that one type of polyphenol known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, inhibits the expression of the interleukin-8 gene--a key gene involved in the inflammatory response.

``We found that this compound reduced the expression of this gene significantly in a culture cell model,'' said study author Dr. Hector Wong of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.

``As we increased the dose, the effect was more profound,'' he told Reuters Health.

In a laboratory study presented here Sunday at a meeting of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the researchers looked at human lung cells that were cultured in a lab dish and treated with a protein called tumor necrosis factor, which typically triggers the expression of IL-8, resulting in the production of the IL-8 protein. In the body, the IL-8 protein attracts white blood cells to a particular site, resulting in tissue inflammation, Wong said.

But when the investigators introduced EGCG in their experiment, they found that it blocked the expression of IL-8. The higher the dose, the greater the effect.

``This compound can short circuit this cascade that leads to inflammation,'' Wong said. It's too soon to advocate drinking cup after cup of green tea in the hopes of treating inflammation, but the results are encouraging and deserve further study, Wong noted.

Reports from Asian populations suggest that green tea consumption may be associated with improvements in various diseases characterized by inflammation, such as colitis and arthritis, he noted. Green tea is also thought to play a role in fighting cancer and heart disease.


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