Comparison of black, green and rooibos tea on osteoblast activity

Food Funct. 2016 Feb;7(2):1166-75. doi: 10.1039/c5fo01222h.


Globally, tea is the second most consumed beverage after water. Habitual tea intake has been associated with higher bone mineral density, particularly in postmenopausal women. This association may be due to its polyphenols and resulting protective antioxidant effects. While in vivo studies have shown improved bone outcomes with a consumption of individual purified tea polyphenols, it is unclear if a particular tea - due to its different profiles of polyphenols - is more beneficial than others. Therefore, we compared three different types of commercially available teas on osteoblasts: green, black and rooibos tea. Tea was normalized to 1 or 10 μg per mL gallic acid equivalents to assess differences in outcomes based on tea profiles rather than the quantity of polyphenol naturally present. The lower level of polyphenols (1 μg per mL gallic acid equivalents) - regardless of tea type and thus polyphenol profile - resulted in greater mineral content as well as cellular and alkaline phosphatase activity in Saos2 cells. Moreover, this was associated with higher markers of differentiation (osteopontin, sclerostin) and reduced cellular toxicity and pro-inflammatory markers (IL6, TNFα). Green, black and rooibos tea improved osteoblast activity at the low level and support epidemiological evidence suggesting tea consumption may benefit bone heath.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / genetics
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Aspalathus / chemistry*
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism
  • Camellia sinensis / chemistry*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Gallic Acid / analysis
  • Gallic Acid / pharmacology
  • Genetic Markers / genetics
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Osteoblasts / cytology
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects*
  • Osteopontin / genetics
  • Osteopontin / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Polyphenols / analysis
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Antioxidants
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Genetic Markers
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyphenols
  • SOST protein, human
  • Tea
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Osteopontin
  • Gallic Acid
  • Alkaline Phosphatase