Purpose: To determine the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the major polyphenol component of green tea, in human corneal epithelial cells (HCEpiC).
Methods: HCEpiC were challenged with interleukin-1β (IL-1β) for 18 h or hyperosmolarity (440 mOsm) for 24 h. Luminex technology was used to determine the effects of EGCG (0.3-30 µM) on IL-1β- or hyperosmolar-induced cytokine release into the medium. Cell metabolic activity was measured using the alamarBlue assay. Effects of EGCG on mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation were determined by cell-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and western blotting. Effects of EGCG on nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) and activator protein-1 (AP-1) transcriptional activity were assessed by reporter gene assay. The effects of EGCG on glucose oxidase (GO)-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was determined using the ROS probe CM-H₂DCFDA.
Results: Treatment of HCEpiC with 1 ng/ml IL-1β for 18 h significantly increased release of the cytokines/chemokines granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8), and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), while hyperosmolarity-induced release of IL-6 and MCP-1. When cells were treated with IL-1β and EGCG or hyperosmolarity and EGCG there was a dose-dependent reduction in release of these cytokines/chemokines, with significant inhibition observed at 3-30 µM. There was no effect of EGCG on cell metabolic activity at any of the doses tested (0.3-30 µM). EGCG significantly inhibited phosphorylation of the MAPKs p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and NFκB and AP-1 transcriptional activities. There was a significant dose-dependent decrease in GO-induced ROS levels after treatment of HCEpiC with EGCG.
Conclusions: EGCG acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant agent in HCEpiC and therefore may have therapeutic potential for ocular inflammatory conditions such as dry eye.