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J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 30;53(24):9478-84.

Stability of tea polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate and formation of dimers and epimers under common experimental conditions.

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Department of Chemical Biology, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University, 164 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854-8020, USA.


(-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the most abundant and biologically active compound in tea, has been extensively studied for its activities related to disease prevention in animal models and in vitro. However, its stability under different experimental conditions has not been well-characterized. In the present study, the stability of EGCG in animal drinking fluid and under cell culture conditions and the factors that affect its stability under these conditions were investigated. Our results demonstrated that auto-oxidation and epimerization are the two major reactions causing the instability of EGCG. The structures of the major oxidation products, EGCG dimers, were identified. The rates of these reactions were affected by the temperature, pH, the partial pressure of oxygen, the level of antioxidants, the concentration of EGCG, and other components of tea. In future studies with EGCG, its stability should be considered in order to avoid possible artifacts.

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