The specific anti-cancer activity of green tea (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG)

Amino Acids. 2002;22(2):131-43. doi: 10.1007/s007260200002.


The effect of the green tea polyphenol-(-)epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) was tested in cultures of normal and transformed NIH-pATM ras fibroblasts. In this system transformation can be induced at will by the addition of dexamethasone, which induces the expression of H- ras by activating the mammary tumor virus long terminal repeat (MMTV-LTR) promoter. This facilitates a reliable comparison of the susceptibility of normal and transformed cells to EGCG. It has been shown that EGCG inhibited the growth of transformed but not of the normal fibroblasts. In an attempt to elucidate the mode of the preferential inhibitory activity of EGCG, its effect on growth promoting factors has been examined. The level of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC, EC, which is a signal for cellular proliferation, was reduced by EGCG in the transformed but not in the normal cells. EGCG also showed strong inhibition of tyrosine kinase and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activities, without affecting the kinases in the normal cells. Similarly, EGCG also preferentially decreased the levels of the oncogenes Ras and Jun in transformed cell. EGCG preferentially induced apoptosis in the transformed fibroblasts. In vitro chemosensitivity tests demonstrated that EGCG inhibited the proliferation of leukemic cells. These findings suggest that EGCG has a therapeutic potential in the combat against cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Catechin / pharmacology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Cyclophosphamide / pharmacology
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Genes, ras
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Ornithine Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Tea
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Catechin
  • epigallocatechin gallate
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Ornithine Decarboxylase