Background: Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to have potent antioxidant effect, comprises 80% of catechins in Chinese green tea. This study was to investigate whether cigarette smoke (CS) exposure would induce lung morphological changes and oxidative stress in the CS-exposed rat model, and whether Chinese green tea (Lung Chen tea with EGCG as its main active ingredient) consumption would alter oxidative stress in sera and lung leading to protection of CS-induced lung damage.
Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into four groups, i.e. sham air (SA), 4% CS, 2% Lung Chen tea plus SA or 4% CS. Exposure to SA or 4% CS was performed for 1h/day for 56 days in ventilated smoking chambers. Sera and lung tissues were collected 24h after last CS exposure for histology and all biochemical assays.
Results: Airspace enlargement and goblet cell hyperplasia were observed after 56-day CS exposure alone, which were abolished in the presence of green tea consumption. Serum 8-isoprostane level was significantly elevated (p<0.01) as well as lung superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase activities in CS-exposed rats compared to SA-exposed rats (p<0.05), which returned to the levels of SA-exposed rats after Chinese green tea consumption.
Conclusion: These results indicate that increased levels of systemic oxidative stress after CS exposure play an important role in the induction of lung damage. Chinese green tea may have the ability to suppress CS-induced oxidative stress that leads to protection of lung injury.