Green tea polyphenolic antioxidants and skin photoprotection (Review)

Int J Oncol. 2001 Jun;18(6):1307-13. doi: 10.3892/ijo.18.6.1307.


Green tea is consumed as a popular beverage worldwide particularly in Asian countries like China, Korea, Japan and India. It contains polyphenolic compounds also known as epicatechins, which are antioxidant in nature. Many laboratories have shown that topical treatment or oral consumption of green tea polyphenols inhibits chemical carcinogen- or ultraviolet radiation-induced skin tumorigenesis in different animal models. Studies have shown that green tea extract also possesses anti-inflammatory activity. These anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties of green tea are due to their polyphenolic constituents present therein. The major and most chemopreventive constituent in green tea responsible for these biochemical or pharmacological effects is (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Understanding the molecular mechanisms of these effects of green tea is a subject of investigation in many laboratories. Treatment of green tea polyphenols to skin has been shown to modulate the biochemical pathways involved in inflammatory responses, cell proliferation and responses of chemical tumor promoters as well as ultraviolet (UV) light-induced inflammatory markers of skin inflammation. Topical treatment with EGCG on mouse skin also results in prevention of UVB-induced immunosuppression, and oxidative stress. The protective effects of green tea treatment on human skin either topically or consumed orally against UV light-induced inflammatory or carcinogenic responses are not well understood. Based on documented extensive beneficial effects of green tea on mouse skin models and very little in human skin, many pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies are supplementing their skin care products with green tea extracts. Therefore, the focus of this communication is to review and analyze the photoprotective effects of green tea polyphenols to skin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives
  • Catechin / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Tea
  • Catechin
  • gallocatechol