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J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2011 Dec 5;56(4):692-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2011.07.007. Epub 2011 Jul 14.

Photodegradation of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate in topical cream formulations and its photostabilization.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Ferrara, via Fossato di Mortara 17-19, 44100 Ferrara, Italy.


The aim of the study was to examine the photostability of the major catechin of green tea, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which possesses important antioxidant and skin photoprotective properties. In order to simulate realistic conditions of use of topical preparations, the photolysis studies were performed in model creams (oil-in-water emulsions) containing 1% (w/w) EGCG and exposed to a solar simulator at an irradiance corresponding to natural sunlight. The extent of photodegradation was measured by HPLC-UV and HPLC-ESI-MS. EGCG was found to decompose by 68.9±2.3%, after 1h irradiation. Addition of the coantioxidants, vitamin E or butylated hydroxytoluene to the emulsion formulation, significantly enhanced the photolability of the catechin, the EGCG loss reached 85.7±1.3% and 80.5±1.4%, respectively. On the other hand, inclusion of the UVB (290-320nm) filter, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate in the cream produced a small but significant reduction of EGCG photodegradation to 61.0±2.9%, while the UVA (320-400nm) filter, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane was ineffective (EGCG degradation, 67.8±1.5%). A more marked decrease in the light-induced decomposition of EGCG to 51.6±2.7% was achieved, under the same conditions, using the water-soluble UVB filter, benzophenone-4 (BP-4). This effect was concentration dependent, maximal EGCG photostabilization (catechin loss, 29.4±2.2%) was attained in the presence of 2.1% (w/w) BP-4. Therefore, BP-4 represents a useful additive to improve the light stability of EGCG in topical formulations for skin photoprotection.

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