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Biochem Pharmacol. 2004 Sep 15;68(6):1125-31.

Antioxidants regulate normal human keratinocyte differentiation.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 2109 Adelbert Road, Cleveland, OH 44106-4970, USA.


Cancer begins with a normal cell that, due to persistent environmental insult, is transformed, via a series of progressively more insidious steps, into a cancer cell. A major goal of chemopreventive therapy is to alter the normal cell response to the environmental agent with the goal of inhibiting disease progression. (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is an important bioactive green tea antioxidant that possesses remarkable cancer chemopreventive properties. We have recently explored the hypothesis that EGCG prevents cancer by promoting keratinocyte differentiation. Based on our findings, we argue that EGCG acts to enhance the differentiation of normal keratinocytes. This is a potentially important finding, as it represents a novel mechanism of disease inhibition by EGCG--cancer preventive "differentiation therapy". However, not all antioxidant chemopreventive agents work by this mechanism. Curcumin, for example, inhibits the differentiation-promoting activity of EGCG. This report discusses the mechanism of EGCG and curcumin action in regulating expression of involucrin, a marker of keratinocyte differentiation.

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