Green tea polyphenol treatment to human skin prevents formation of ultraviolet light B-induced pyrimidine dimers in DNA

Clin Cancer Res. 2000 Oct;6(10):3864-9.


Cancer chemopreventive effects of polyphenols from green tea (GTP) in mouse models of photocarcinogenesis are established. The present study is extended from mouse model to human system in vivo to determine the effect of topical application of GTP to human individuals against UV light-induced DNA damage in the form of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) in the skin. UVB-induced CPDs were detected by immunohistochemical technique using monoclonal antibodies to thymine dimers. With the gradual increase in UVB dose, both erythema response and CPD formation in the skin was increased. GTP treatment inhibited both UVB-induced erythema response as well as CPD formation. Topical treatment with GTP (approximately 1 mg/cm2 of skin area) 20 min before human buttock skin (sun-protected site) exposure to UVB inhibited CPD formation in epidermis by 81, 70, 60, and 60% at 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, and 4.0 minimal erythema dose of UV exposure, respectively. Treatment of human skin with varying doses of GTP (1-4 mg/2.5 cm2 of skin area) before a single dose of UVB exposure (4.0 minimal erythema dose) decreased dose dependently the formation of UVB-induced CPDs in both epidermis and dermis. The inhibition of UVB-induced CPDs by GTP treatment may be, at least in part, responsible for the inhibition of photocarcinogenesis. Our data suggest that GTP may be used as a novel chemopreventive candidate and possible strategy to reduce UV-induced skin cancer risk in the human population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Damage
  • Dimerization*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Flavonoids*
  • Guanosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Polymers / pharmacology*
  • Polyphenols
  • Pyrimidines / metabolism*
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Tea / metabolism*
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polymers
  • Polyphenols
  • Pyrimidines
  • Tea
  • Guanosine Triphosphate
  • DNA
  • pyrimidine