Many lines of evidence suggest that oxidative stress resulting in reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and inflammation play a pivotal role in the age-associated cognitive decline and neuronal loss in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's (AD), Parkinson's (PD) and Huntington's diseases. One cardinal chemical pathology observed in these disorders is the accumulation of iron at sites where the neurons die. The buildup of an iron gradient in conjunction with ROS (superoxide, hydroxyl radical and nitric oxide) are thought to constitute a major trigger in neuronal toxicity and demise in all these diseases. Thus, promising future treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and aging depends on availability of effective brain permeable, iron-chelatable/radical scavenger neuroprotective drugs that would prevent the progression of neurodegeneration. Tea flavonoids (catechins) have been reported to possess potent iron-chelating, radical-scavenging and anti-inflammatory activities and to protect neuronal death in a wide array of cellular and animal models of neurological diseases. Recent studies have indicated that in addition to the known antioxidant activity of catechins, other mechanisms such as modulation of signal transduction pathways, cell survival/death genes and mitochondrial function, contribute significantly to the induction of cell viability. This review will focus on the multifunctional properties of green tea and its major component (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and their ability to induce neuroprotection and neurorescue in vitro and in vivo. In particular, their transitional metal (iron and copper) chelating property and inhibition of oxidative stress.
2005 S. Karger AG, Basel