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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1992 Jul 29;1127(2):141-6.

Tea catechins decrease micellar solubility and intestinal absorption of cholesterol in rats.

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Laboratory of Nutrition Chemistry, Kyushu University School of Agriculture, Fukuoka, Japan.


A(-)-epicatechin (EC) and (-)-epigallocatechin (EGC) mixture and a mixture of their gallates (ECG and EGCG, respectively) markedly lowered lymphatic cholesterol absorption in rats with a cannulated thoracic duct. A mixture of ECG and EGCG was more effective in reducing cholesterol absorption than the EC and EGC mixture. These catechins also tended to decrease lymphatic absorption of triacylglycerols, although not so pronounced as in cholesterol absorption. An in vitro study on micellar solubility of cholesterol showed that these catechin mixtures precipitated cholesterol solubilized in mixed bile salt micelles in a dose-dependent manner. A mixture of ECG and EGCG more effectively precipitated micellar cholesterol than a mixture of EC and EGC. When purified EC, EGC, ECG and EGCG were used, EGCG was more effective in precipitating micellar cholesterol than ECG. The effect of EC and EGC was comparable and weaker than their gallate esters. The bile acid concentration in the micelles was not affected by these catechins. A positive correlation was observed between the amount of coprecipitated EGCG and cholesterol. These results clearly show that tea catechins, in particular their gallate esters, effectively reduce cholesterol absorption from the intestine by reducing solubility of cholesterol in mixed micelles. The observation accounts for the hypocholesterolemic effect of tea catechins.

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