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Br J Pharmacol. 1998 Jul;124(6):1227-37.

Epigallocatechin suppression of proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells: correlation with c-jun and JNK.

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Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei.


1. The mechanisms of the antiproliferative effect of epigallocatechin, one of the catechin derivatives found in green tea, in vascular smooth muscle cells were studied. The proliferative response was determined from the uptake of tritiated thymidine. 2. In the concentration range of 10(-6) to 10(-4) M, catechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate and epigallocatechin, epigallocatechin gallate, concentration-dependently inhibited the proliferative response stimulated by serum in rabbit cultured vascular smooth muscle cells. Catechin and epicatechin were less effective in inhibiting the serum-stimulated smooth muscle cell proliferation, indicating that the galloyl group may be important for full inhibitory activity. 3. Epigallocatechin (EGC) inhibited the proliferative responses in different cells including rat aortic smooth muscle cells (A7r5 cells), rabbit cultured aortic smooth muscle cells, human coronary artery smooth muscle cells, and human CEM lymphocytes in a concentration-dependent manner. The possible mechanisms of the antiproliferative effect of EGC were further studied in A7r5 cells. 4. The membranous protein tyrosine kinase activity stimulated by serum in A7r5 cells was significantly reduced by 10(-5) M EGC. In contrast, the cytosolic protein kinase C activity stimulated by phorbol ester was unaffected by directly incubating with EGC (10(-6)-10(-4) M). 5. We also performed Western blot analysis using the anti-phosphotyrosine monoclonal antibody PY20. EGC (10(-5) M) reduced the levels of tyrosine phosphorylated proteins with different molecular weights, indicating that EGC may inhibit the protein tyrosine kinase activity or stimulate the protein phosphatase activity. 6. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis of c-fos, c-jun and c-myc mRNA levels demonstrated that c-jun mRNA level after serum-stimulation was significantly reduced by 10(-5) M EGC. However, the reduction of c-fos and c-myc mRNA levels by 10(-5) M EGC did not achieve significance. 7. Western blot analysis using the antibody against JNK (c-jun N-terminal kinase) and ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) demonstrated that the level of phosphorylated JNK1, but not phosphorylated ERK1 and ERK2, was reduced by 10(-5) M EGC. Direct measurement of kinase activity by immune complex kinase assay confirmed that JNK1 activity was inhibited by EGC treatment. These results demonstrate that EGC preferentially reduced the activation of JNK/SAPK (stress-activated protein kinase) signal transduction pathway. 8. It is suggested that the antiproliferative effect of epigallocatechin on vascular smooth muscle cells may partly be mediated through inhibition of protein tyrosine kinase activity, reducing c-jun mRNA expression and inhibiting JNK1 activation. Tea catechins may be useful as a template for the development of drugs to prevent the pathological changes of atherosclerosis and post-angioplasty restenosis.

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