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Green tea compound touted as beneficial in rheumatoid arthritis

01 May 2007

Peter Goodyear

A compound present in green tea may prove beneficial in reducing pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, a new study by the University of Michigan Health System has indicated. Green tea is already thought to be beneficial in fighting against heart disease as well as cancer.

The compound in question is called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and was found to prevent the production of several molecules by the immune system that play a crucial role in inflammation and cause joint damage in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers isolated cells called synovial fibroblasts from patients with rheumatoid arthritis and cultured them in a growth medium. Some fibroblasts were also incubated in EGCG. Later on researchers exposed the fibroblasts to pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1b.

This protein is known to cause joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis. Fibroblasts unexposed to EGCG participated in molecular events that led to the production of bone-destructive molecules, while EGCG treated cells inhibited the production of bone-destroying molecules, the researchers said.

“Our research is a very promising step in the search for therapies for the joint destruction experienced by people who have rheumatoid arthritis,” said lead researcher Salah-uddin Ahmed of the Division of Rheumatology at the U-M Health System. "The results from this study suggest that EGCG may be of potential therapeutic value in regulating the joint destruction in RA."

The study was presented by Ahmed at the Experimental Biology 2007 meet on April 29.

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