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Toxicol Lett. 2007 Jul 10;171(3):171-80. Epub 2007 May 31.

In vitro cytotoxicity of (-)-catechin gallate, a minor polyphenol in green tea.

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Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University, Department of Biology, 245 Lexington Avenue, NY 10016, USA.


The cytotoxicity of (-)-catechin gallate (CG), a minor polyphenolic constituent in green tea, towards cells derived from tissues of the human oral cavity was studied. The sequence of sensitivity to CG was: immortalized epithelioid gingival S-G cells>tongue squamous carcinoma CAL27 cells>salivary gland squamous carcinoma HSG cells>>normal gingival HGF-1 fibroblasts. Further studies focused on S-G cells, the cells most sensitive to CG. The response of the S-G cells to CG was dependent on the length of exposure, with midpoint cytotoxicity values of 127, 67 and 58muM CG for 1-, 2- and 3-day exposures, respectively. The sequence of sensitivity of the S-G cells to various green tea catechins was characterized as follows: CG, epicatechin gallate (ECG)>epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)>epigallocatechin (EGC)>>epicatechin (EC), catechin (C). The cytotoxicity of CG, apparently, was not due to oxidative stress as it was a poor generator of H(2)O(2) in tissue culture medium, had no effect on the intracellular glutathione level, its cytotoxicity was unaffected by catalase, and it did not induce lipid peroxidation. However, CG did enhance Fe(2+)-induced, lipid peroxidation. CG-induced apoptosis was detected by nuclear staining, both with acridine orange and by the more specific TUNEL procedure. The lack of caspase-3 activity in cells exposed to CG and the detection of a DNA smear, rather than of discrete internucleosomal DNA fragmentation, upon agarose gel electrophoresis, suggest, possibly, that the mode of cell death was by a caspase-independent apoptotic pathway. The overall cytotoxicity of CG was similar to its epimer, ECG and both exhibited antiproliferative effects equivalent to, or stronger than, EGCG, the most abundant catechin in green tea.

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