Tea Might Protect Transplanted Livers

Green tea extract cut post-surgical troubles in mice

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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 23, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- An antioxidant found in green tea may help protect patients recovering from liver transplant, suggests a study in mice.

Restrictions in blood flow, or ischemia, can lead to complications following liver transplantation in humans, particularly if the liver is fatty, as it can be in obese individuals.

But a natural antioxidant found in green tea may protect transplanted organs from ischemia-linked damage, according to researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston.

A previous study found the simple act of rinsing fatty livers in a solution containing green tea extract helped prevent transplant failure.

In their study, the Charleston team gave mice doses of EGCG, the major antioxidant flavonoid found in green tea. They then performed surgeries resulting in ischemia that threatened to injure the rodents' livers.

Mice receiving the green tea derivative showed a 100 percent post-surgery survival rate, compared to a 65 percent survival for animals not receiving the compound. Tissue analysis showed that mice receiving the tea extract experienced less liver cell death and retained a higher percentage of viable tissue.

Further research suggests the green tea extract acts as an antioxidant, protecting fatty livers from injury while reducing liver fat content by about 55 percent.

The findings appear in the March issue of Liver Transplantation.

More information

The National Institutes of Health have more about liver transplants.

SOURCE: Liver Tranplantation, news release, Feb. 18, 2005

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