Background: Green tea was suggested as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of diabetes more than 70 years ago, but the mechanisms behind its antidiabetic effect remains elusive. In this work, we address this issue by feeding a green tea extract (TEAVIGO™) with a high content of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) or the thiazolidinedione PPAR-γ agonist rosiglitazone, as positive control, to db/db mice, an animal model for diabetes.
Methods: Young (7 week-old) db/db mice were randomized and assigned to receive diets supplemented with or without EGCG or rosiglitazone for 10 weeks. Fasting blood glucose, body weight and food intake was measured along the treatment. Glucose and insulin levels were determined during an oral glucose tolerance test after 10 weeks of treatment. Pancreata were sampled at the end of the study for blinded histomorphometric analysis. Islets were isolated and their mRNA expression analyzed by quantitative RT-PCR.
Results: The results show that, in db/db mice, EGCG improves glucose tolerance and increases glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. EGCG supplementation reduces the number of pathologically changed islets of Langerhans, increases the number and the size of islets, and heightens pancreatic endocrine area. These effects occurred in parallel with a reduction in islet endoplasmic reticulum stress markers, possibly linked to the antioxidative capacity of EGCG.
Conclusions: This study shows that the green tea extract EGCG markedly preserves islet structure and enhances glucose tolerance in genetically diabetic mice. Dietary supplementation with EGCG could potentially contribute to nutritional strategies for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.