Elements of green tea prevent HIV from binding to human T cells

The major component of green tea prevents the binding of HIV to human T cells, the first step in HIV infection, according to a study and an accompanying editorial published in the November 2003 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI). The JACI is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Green tea is the nonoxidized, unfermented product of the leaves from the evergreen plant, Camellia sinensis. It is made up of catechins, the most abundant of which is Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG). It is believed that EGCG is responsible for the vast array of presumed health benefits green tea possesses, such as the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Several studies have reported that EGCG may also have a protective effect against HIV infection.

Kuzushige Kawai, MD, and colleagues from the University of Tokyo demonstrated in laboratory studies that EGCG blocked the binding of HIV envelope glycoprotein to human CD4 molecules on human T cells. The CD4 molecule acts as a binding target for HIV vesicles and plays an important role in the aggressive infection process.

Researchers found that EGCG showed a strong affinity for the CD4 molecule, and by binding them, could effectively prevent the binding of the HIV glycoprotein envelope. These findings open new doors for the clinical application of EGCG as a new anti-HIV drug.

Further research into the potential preventative effects of the green tea catechin EGCG on HIV infection is being conducted by researchers at the National Center for Macromolecular Imaging at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, and the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England. In an editorial accompanying the Kawai study, William T. Shearer, MD, PhD, FAAAAI, and colleagues from Baylor report on the use of advanced computer programs to better define the nature and power of the binding effects of

Contact: John Gardner
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

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