A green tea extract could help alleviate shortage of livers available for transplant

New Orleans, LA -- Consumers of Japanese green tea have for centuries believed the ancient Chinese proverb, Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one, believing that the drink has been effective in preventing cancer and cardiac conditions. Now researchers have demonstrated that an extract from the popular tea could aid in alleviating the shortage of livers available for transplantation.

Liver transplantation represents the most effective therapy for end-stage liver diseases. However, a severe shortage of donor livers strictly limits the use of this life-saving technique. Consequently, many patients die because they never receive a transplant. For example, about 18,000 patients are currently waiting for donor livers in USA; however, less than 5,000 liver transplantations were performed in 2000. As a result, the number of patients on waiting lists continues to increase. Moreover, shortage of donor livers is exacerbated because some donor organs are unusable, and primary graft failure, which occurs in five to 15 percent of cases, often necessitates retransplantation.

A major source of donor livers is brain-dead accident victims, and accidents are associated overwhelmingly with alcohol. Therefore, alcohol consumption is likely to be a common characteristic of organ donors. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption causes fatty infiltration (deposit of fat within the tissues). Fatty grafts exhibit higher rates of primary graft failure leading to higher death rate; therefore, fatty livers are often not accepted for transplantation.

Previous studies have demonstrated that production of free radicals, an atom or atom group carrying an unpaired electron and no charge, increased in fatty livers after liver transplantation. This increase has been associated with liver graft injury and failure.

Polyphenols are efficient free radical and single oxygen scavengers, and green tea extracts inhibit lipid peroxidati

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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