Compound in Green Tea May Help Treat Metabolic Disease
Research from Israel gives hope to people with inherited metabolic disorders that can cause serious developmental problems. Antioxidants in green tea and red wine may one day be used to make drugs that treat these maladies. The study was led by Ehud Gazit of Tel Aviv University Faculty of Life Sciences and his doctoral student Shira Shaham-Niv.
“Our new study demonstrates once again the ability of nature to produce the best candidate of drugs to treat some of the worst human maladies,” Shaham-Niv said.
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Most people with congenital metabolic diseases have a defective gene that results in the deficiency of critically important enzymes needed to break down metabolites. Consequently, metabolites accumulate and harm nerve cells in the brain. “In the case of inborn congenital metabolic diseases, the body does not produce a vital metabolic enzyme,” Shaham-Niv said. “As a result, metabolites — substances that are, among other things, the building blocks of DNA and proteins — accumulate in the body. Such uncontrolled accumulation is toxic and can cause severe developmental and mental disorders.”
No cure exists for the condition, so patients must follow an extremely strict diet their entire lives. The research, published in the journal Communications Chemistry, discovered epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea and tannic acid in red wine may block the formation of these toxic metabolites.
Metabolites of Metabolic Diseases Form Amyloid Plaque
Congenital metabolic diseases comprise a substantial proportion of children’s genetic diseases. A common one is phenylketonuria (PKU), which results in the accumulation of the metabolite phenylalanine. Infants with PKU must follow a phenylalanine-free diet or suffer devastating developmental problems.
“But this is an incredibly difficult task, since phenylalanine is found in most of the food products that we consume,” Shaham-Niv said. “The avoidance of certain substances is the only way to prevent the debilitating long-term effects of inborn congenital metabolic disorders…”
Two previous studies at Gazit’s lab formed the basis of the new research. One investigation showed phenylalanine had the capacity to assemble itself and form amyloid plaque like that found in Alzheimer’s patients. The other experiment, conducted by Shaham-Niv, discovered the metabolites that aggregate in other inherited metabolic diseases were also capable of assembling themselves and forming amyloid plaque.
EGCG and Tannic Acid Block Formation of Amyloid Plaque Tied to Toxic Metabolites
Other research has shown both EGCG and tannic acid inhibit the formation and/or buildup of toxic amyloid plaque in the brain associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, the researchers chose them for the current study.
“In our new study, we examined whether the molecules identified in past studies on Alzheimer’s disease and other amyloid diseases, which are known to inhibit the formation of amyloid aggregates, could also help counteract the amyloid formation process of metabolites in metabolic diseases,” Shaham-Niv said.
Gazit and Shaham-Niv used test tubes and cell culture systems to explore the effects of EGCG and tannic acid on metabolites connected to three congenital metabolic diseases: adenine, phenylalanine and cumulative tyrosine. Both EGCG and tannic acid blocked the metabolites’ formation of amyloid.
“We are entering a new era of understanding the role and the importance of metabolites in various diseases, including metabolic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and even cancer,” Shaham-Niv concluded. “The tools we have developed are ground-breaking and have tremendous potential to help a wide range of patients in the future.”
Green Tea is Extremely Beneficial for Health
Earlier scientific investigations link EGCG in green tea to several health benefits that include reduced heart disease risk, decreased inflammation and improved liver health. The new study adds one more advantage to the list.
In addition to EGCG, green tea is rich in other antioxidants and healing compounds. It’s considered by many people to be the world’s healthiest and the ultimate anti-aging beverage. Because green tea has been associated with more positive health effects than even some fruits, vegetables and spices, it’s viewed by some experts as a superfood extraordinaire.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.