Introduction: Catechins, abundant in green tea, exhibit many biological actions for potential clinical applications. Our purpose was to explore the potential benefits of catechin ingestion on recovery of physical performance after downhill running.
Methods: Institute of Cancer Research mice were used to examine the effects of prior catechin ingestion (0.5% w/w in diet for 3 wk) on 1) wheel-running activity, 2) running endurance, 3) muscle force, and 4) muscle oxidative stress and inflammation after downhill running (16 m·min for 5 min, 18 m·min for 5 min, 20 m·min for 10 min, and 22 m·min for 130 min).
Results: Voluntary wheel-running activity and the contractile force of the isolated soleus muscle decreased (P < 0.05) after downhill running. Notably, catechin ingestion significantly alleviated the running-induced decrease in voluntary wheel-running activity by 35%; the catechin-treated mice maintained endurance running capacity (214 ± 9 vs 189 ± 10 min, P < 0.05). Furthermore, catechins alleviated (P < 0.05) the decrease in tetanic force evident in the soleus muscle after downhill running. Catechins suppressed the running-induced increases in plasma creatine phosphokinase levels by 52%; this was also true of the carbonylated protein content of the soleus muscle by 17% (P < 0.05), malondialdehyde levels by 32% in the gastrocnemius muscle, and myeloperoxidase activity of the gastrocnemius by 22% (P < 0.05). The levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 in the gastrocnemius muscle were significantly lower (P < 0.05) by 33%, 29%, and 35%, respectively, in treated mice; the expression levels of mRNAs encoding these fell in parallel.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that long-term intake of catechins, perhaps through their antioxidant properties, attenuates downhill running-induced muscle damage by suppressing muscle oxidative stress and inflammation, hastening recovery of physical performance in mice.