Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) inhibits adhesion and migration of neural progenitor cells in vitro

Arch Toxicol. 2017 Feb;91(2):827-837. doi: 10.1007/s00204-016-1709-8. Epub 2016 Apr 26.


Food supplements based on herbal products are widely used during pregnancy as part of a self-care approach. The idea that such supplements are safe and healthy is deeply seated in the general population, although they do not underlie the same strict safety regulations than medical drugs. We aimed to characterize the neurodevelopmental effects of the green tea catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is now commercialized as high-dose food supplement. We used the "Neurosphere Assay" to study the effects and unravel underlying molecular mechanisms of EGCG treatment on human and rat neural progenitor cells (NPCs) development in vitro. EGCG alters human and rat NPC development in vitro. It disturbs migration distance, migration pattern, and nuclear density of NPCs growing as neurospheres. These functional impairments are initiated by EGCG binding to the extracellular matrix glycoprotein laminin, preventing its binding to β1-integrin subunits, thereby prohibiting cell adhesion and resulting in altered glia alignment and decreased number of migrating young neurons. Our data raise a concern on the intake of high-dose EGCG food supplements during pregnancy and highlight the need of an in vivo characterization of the effects of high-dose EGCG exposure during neurodevelopment.

Keywords: Adhesion; DNT; Extracellular matrix; Food supplements; Migration; Neurospheres.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catechin / administration & dosage
  • Catechin / adverse effects
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Catechin / metabolism
  • Catechin / pharmacology
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / genetics
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Integrin beta1 / metabolism
  • Laminin / metabolism
  • Nestin / metabolism
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology
  • Neural Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Integrin beta1
  • Laminin
  • NES protein, human
  • Nestin
  • Catechin
  • epigallocatechin gallate