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J Nutr Biochem. 2006 May;17(5):291-306. Epub 2005 Nov 8.

Mechanisms of action of green tea catechins, with a focus on ischemia-induced neurodegeneration.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Otago, Dunedin, P.O. Box 913, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Catechins are dietary polyphenolic compounds associated with a wide variety of beneficial health effects in vitro, in vivo and clinically. These therapeutic properties have long been attributed to the catechins' antioxidant and free radical scavenging effects. Emerging evidence has shown that catechins and their metabolites have many additional mechanisms of action by affecting numerous sites, potentiating endogenous antioxidants and eliciting dual actions during oxidative stress, ischemia and inflammation. Catechins have proven to modulate apoptosis at various points in the sequence, including altering expression of anti- and proapoptotic genes. Their anti-inflammatory effects are activated through a variety of different mechanisms, including modulation of nitric oxide synthase isoforms. Catechins' actions of attenuating oxidative stress and the inflammatory response may, in part, account for their confirmed neuroprotective capabilities following cerebral ischemia. The versatility of the mechanisms of action of catechins increases their therapeutic potential as interventions for numerous clinical disorders. However, more epidemiological and clinical studies need to be undertaken for their efficacy to be fully elucidated.

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