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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2004 Nov;287(5):G954-61. Epub 2004 Jul 1.

Green tea polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechin gallate blocks epithelial barrier dysfunction provoked by IFN-gamma but not by IL-4.

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Intestinal Disease Research Programme, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, L8N 3Z5, Canada.


A characteristic of many enteropathies is increased epithelial permeability, a potentially pathophysiological event that can be evoked by T helper (Th)-1 (i.e., IFN-gamma) and Th2 (i.e., IL-4) cytokines and bacterial infection [e.g., enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC)]. The green tea polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has immunosuppressive properties, and we hypothesized that it would ameliorate the increased epithelial permeability induced by IFN-gamma, IL-4, and/or EPEC. EGCG, but not the related epigallocatechin, completely prevented the increase in epithelial (i.e., T84 cell monolayer) permeability caused by IFN-gamma exposure as gauged by transepithelial resistance and horseradish peroxidase flux; EGCG did not alleviate the barrier disruption induced by IL-4 or EPEC. IFN-gamma-treated T84 and THP-1 (monocytic cell line) cells displayed STAT1 activation (tyrosine phosphorylation on Western blot analysis, DNA binding on EMSA) and upregulation of interferon response factor-1 mRNA, a STAT1-dependent gene. All three events were inhibited by EGCG pretreatment. Aurintricarboxylic acid also blocked IFN-gamma-induced STAT1 activation, but it did not prevent the increase in epithelial permeability. Additionally, pharmacological blockade of MAPK signaling did not affect IFN-gamma-induced epithelial barrier dysfunction. Thus, as a potential adjunct anti-inflammatory agent, EGCG can block STAT1-dependent events in gut epithelia and monocytes and prevent IFN-gamma-induced increased epithelial permeability. The latter event is both a STAT1- and MAPK-independent event.

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