Catechins are flavonoids found in abundance in green tea, have elicited high interest due to their beneficial effects on health. Though flavonoids have been reported to have an antithyroid effect and also to be goitrogenic there have been no reports about the effect of green tea on rat thyroid. The present study was designed to examine whether high doses of green tea has any harmful effect on thyroid physiology. For this purpose green tea extract was administered orally to male albino rats for 30 days at doses of 1.25 g%, 2.5 g% and 5.0 g%, respectively. Similarly, pure catechin was administered at doses of 25, 50 and 100mg/kg body weight which is equivalent to above doses of green tea extract. Lower body weight gain associated with marked hypertrophy and/or hyperplasia of the follicles was noted in the high dose of green tea and catechin treated groups. Decreased activity of thyroid peroxidase and 5'-deiodinase I and substantially elevated thyroidal Na,K+ATPase activity have been observed. Moreover, serum T3 and T4 levels were found to reduce followed by significant elevation of serum TSH. Taken together, these results suggest that catechin present in green tea extract might behave as antithyroid agent and possibly the consumption of green tea at high dose could alter thyroid function adversely.
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