WEDNESDAY, Sept. 21, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- An ingredient in green tea has prevented Alzheimer's disease-like brain damage in mice, researchers report.
The compound, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), decreased production of the protein beta-amyloid, which accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and causes nerve damage and memory loss.
"The findings suggest that a concentrated component of green tea can decrease brain beta-amyloid plaque formation," senior researcher Dr. Jun Tan, director of the Neuroimmunology Laboratory at the the University of South Florida's Silver Child Development Center, said in a prepared statement.
Reporting in the Sept. 21 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, the research team worked with mice genetically programmed to develop a disease mimicking human Alzheimer's.
The mice received daily injections of EGCG for several months and showed as much as a 54 percent reduction in the formation of brain-clogging beta-amyloid plaques. It appears that EGCG prevents the initial process that leads to beta-amyloid formation in brain cells, the researchers said.
"If beta-amyloid pathology in this Alzheimer's mouse model is representative of Alzheimer's disease pathology in humans, EGCG dietary supplementation may be effective in preventing and treating the disease," Tan said.
The researchers will next study whether multiple oral doses of EGCG improve memory loss in mice with Alzheimer's.
"If those studies show clear cognitive benefits, we believe clinical trials of EGCG to treat Alzheimer's disease would be warranted," Tan said.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about Alzheimer's disease.