Purpose: Green tea and green tea polyphenols have been shown to possess cancer preventive activities in preclinical model systems. In preparation for future green tea intervention trials, we have conducted a clinical study to determine the safety and pharmacokinetics of green tea polyphenols after 4 weeks of daily p.o. administration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) or Polyphenon E (a defined, decaffeinated green tea polyphenol mixture). In an exploratory fashion, we have also determined the effect of chronic green tea polyphenol administration on UV-induced erythema response.
Experimental design: Healthy participants with Fitzpatric skin type II or III underwent a 2-week run-in period and were randomly assigned to receive one of the five treatments for 4 weeks: 800 mg EGCG once/day, 400 mg EGCG twice/day, 800 mg EGCG as Polyphenon E once/day, 400 mg EGCG as Polyphenon E twice/day, or a placebo once/day (8 subjects/group). Samples were collected and measurements performed before and after the 4-week treatment period for determination of safety, pharmacokinetics, and biological activity of green tea polyphenol treatment.
Results: Adverse events reported during the 4-week treatment period include excess gas, upset stomach, nausea, heartburn, stomach ache, abdominal pain, dizziness, headache, and muscle pain. All of the reported events were rated as mild events. For most events, the incidence reported in the polyphenol-treated groups was not more than that reported in the placebo group. No significant changes were observed in blood counts and blood chemistry profiles after repeated administration of green tea polyphenol products. There was a >60% increase in the area under the plasma EGCG concentration-time curve after 4 weeks of green tea polyphenol treatment at a dosing schedule of 800 mg once daily. No significant changes were observed in the pharmacokinetics of EGCG after repeated green tea polyphenol treatment at a regimen of 400 mg twice daily. The pharmacokinetics of the conjugated metabolites of epigallocatechin and epicatechin were not affected by repeated green tea polyphenol treatment. Four weeks of green tea polyphenol treatment at the selected dose and dosing schedule did not provide protection against UV-induced erythema.
Conclusions: We conclude that it is safe for healthy individuals to take green tea polyphenol products in amounts equivalent to the EGCG content in 8-16 cups of green tea once a day or in divided doses twice a day for 4 weeks. There is a >60% increase in the systemic availability of free EGCG after chronic green tea polyphenol administration at a high daily bolus dose (800 mg EGCG or Polyphenon E once daily).