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J Biol Chem. 2013 Aug 2;288(31):22693-705. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.477505. Epub 2013 Jun 10.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) stimulates autophagy in vascular endothelial cells: a potential role for reducing lipid accumulation.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.


Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a major polyphenol in green tea that has beneficial effects in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Autophagy is a cellular process that protects cells from stressful conditions. To determine whether the beneficial effect of EGCG is mediated by a mechanism involving autophagy, the roles of the EGCG-stimulated autophagy in the context of ectopic lipid accumulation were investigated. Treatment with EGCG increased formation of LC3-II and autophagosomes in primary bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAEC). Activation of calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase β was required for EGCG-induced LC3-II formation, as evidenced by the fact that EGCG-induced LC3-II formation was significantly impaired by knockdown of calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase β. This effect is most likely due to cytosolic Ca(2+) load. To determine whether EGCG affects palmitate-induced lipid accumulation, the effects of EGCG on autophagic flux and co-localization of lipid droplets and autophagolysosomes were examined. EGCG normalized the palmitate-induced impairment of autophagic flux. Accumulation of lipid droplets by palmitate was markedly reduced by EGCG. Blocking autophagosomal degradation opposed the effect of EGCG in ectopic lipid accumulation, suggesting the action of EGCG is through autophagosomal degradation. The mechanism for this could be due to the increased co-localization of lipid droplets and autophagolysosomes. Co-localization of lipid droplets with LC3 and lysosome was dramatically increased when the cells were treated with EGCG and palmitate compared with the cells treated with palmitate alone. Collectively, these findings suggest that EGCG regulates ectopic lipid accumulation through a facilitated autophagic flux and further imply that EGCG may be a potential therapeutic reagent to prevent cardiovascular complications.


AMP-activated Kinase (AMPK); Autophagy; CaMKKβ; Calcium; EGCG; Lipid Droplet; Lipophagy; Polyphenols

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