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Green tea ingredient prevents Alzheimer's-like brain damage in mice

Tampa, FL (Sept. 21, 2005) -- Researchers at the University of South (USF) have found that green tea may offer another potential health benefit -- protecting the brain against the ravages of Alzheimer's disease.

In an article published Sept. 21 in the Journal of Neuroscience, USF researchers report that a component of green tea prevented Alzheimer's-like damage in the brains of mice genetically programmed to develop the neurodegenerative disease process. The component, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), is a major antioxidant in green tea and has been widely studied for its reported protection against certain cancers.

Now the USF team provides the first evidence that EGCG decreases production of the Alzheimer's-related protein, beta-amyloid, which can accumulate abnormally in the brain and lead to nerve damage and memory loss. This reduction in beta-amyloid was observed both in cell cultures and a mouse model for Alzheimer's disease. EGCG appears to block the initial process by which the Alzheimer's-related protein is formed in brain cells.

After treating Alzheimer's mice for several months with daily injections of pure EGCG, the researchers observed a dramatic decrease -- as much as 54 percent -- of brain-clogging Alzheimer's plaques.

"The findings suggest that a concentrated component of green tea can decrease brain beta-amyloid plaque formation," said senior study author Jun Tan, PhD, MD, director of the Neuroimmunology Laboratory at the Silver Child Development Center, USF Department of Psychiatry. "If beta-amyloid pathology in this Alzheimer's mouse model is representative of Alzheimer's disease pathology in humans, EGCG dietary supplementation may be effective in preventing and treating the disease."

Green tea contains many antioxidants, including those known as flavonoids that can protect against free radical damage to the brain. However, Dr. Tan and colleagues demonstrated that other flavinoids in green tea a
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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@hsc.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida Health
20-Sep-2005


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