Dietary pretreatment with green tea polyphenol, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate reduces the bioavailability and hepatotoxicity of subsequent oral bolus doses of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate

Food Chem Toxicol. 2015 Feb:76:103-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2014.12.009. Epub 2014 Dec 17.


Human case-studies have reported an association between green tea-based dietary supplements and hepatotoxicity. Studies have demonstrated the hepatotoxicity of high-dose oral bolus dosing with the tea polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) in mice and dogs. We examined the effect of pretreatment with dietary EGCG on the hepatotoxicity and bioavailability of acute oral bolus dosing with EGCG in CF-1 mice. EGCG (750 mg/kg, i.g., once daily for 3 days) increased plasma alanine aminotransferase by 80-fold, decreased both reduced (by 59%) and total (by 33%) hepatic glutathione, and increased hepatic levels of phosphorylated histone 2AX. Pretreatment with dietary EGCG (3.2 mg/g diet) for 2 weeks mitigated hepatotoxicity. Acute oral EGCG also decreased mRNA expression of glutathione reductase. Dietary pretreatment prevented these decreased and increased glutathione peroxidase (Gpx)2, Gpx3, Gpx5, and Gpx7 expression. We found that dietary EGCG reduced the plasma (57% reduction) and hepatic (71% reduction) EGCG exposure following oral bolus dosing compared to mice that were not pre-treated. Overall, it appears that EGCG can modulate its own bioavailability and that dietary treatment may reduce the toxic potential of acute high oral bolus doses of EGCG. These data may partly explain the observed variation in hepatotoxic response to green tea-containing dietary supplements.

Keywords: (−)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate; Bioavailability; Camellia sinensis; Green tea; Hepatotoxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Catechin / administration & dosage
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Catechin / pharmacokinetics
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Polyphenols / administration & dosage*
  • Polyphenols / pharmacokinetics*
  • Tea / chemistry*


  • Polyphenols
  • Tea
  • Catechin
  • epigallocatechin gallate
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Glutathione