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Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2009 Jun;379(6):551-64. doi: 10.1007/s00210-009-0401-4. Epub 2009 Feb 17.

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate induced primary cultures of rat hippocampal neurons death linked to calcium overload and oxidative stress.

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  • 1School of Life Science, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui, 230027, People's Republic of China.


Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a catechin polyphenols component, is the main ingredient of green tea extract. It has been reported that EGCG is a potent antioxidant and beneficial in oxidative stress-related diseases, but others and our previous study showed that EGCG has pro-oxidant effects at high concentration. Thus, in this study, we tried to examine the possible pathway of EGCG-induced cell death in cultures of rat hippocampal neurons. Our results showed that EGCG caused a rapid elevation of intracellular free calcium levels ([Ca(2+)](i)) in a dose-dependent way. Exposure to EGCG dose- and time-dependently increased the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reduced mitochondrial membrane potential (Deltapsi(m)) as well as the Bcl-2/Bax expression ratio. Importantly, acetoxymethyl ester of 5,5'-dimethyl-bis(o-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid, ethylene glycol-bis-(2-aminoethyl)-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid, and vitamin E could attenuate EGCG-induced apoptotic responses, including ROS generation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and finally partially prevented EGCG-induced cell death. Furthermore, treatment of hippocampal neurons with EGCG resulted in an elevation of caspase-3 and caspase-9 activities with no significant accompaniment of lactate dehydrogenase release, which provided further evidence that apoptosis was the dominant mode of EGCG-induced cell death in cultures of hippocampal neurons. Taken together, these findings indicated that EGCG induced hippocampal neuron death through the mitochondrion-dependent pathway.

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