Epigallocatechin-3-gallate enhances key enzymatic activities of hepatic thioredoxin and glutathione systems in selenium-optimal mice but activates hepatic Nrf2 responses in selenium-deficient mice

Redox Biol. 2016 Dec;10:221-232. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2016.10.009. Epub 2016 Oct 24.


Selenium participates in the antioxidant defense mainly through a class of selenoproteins, including thioredoxin reductase. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the most abundant and biologically active catechin in green tea. Depending upon the dose and biological systems, EGCG may function either as an antioxidant or as an inducer of antioxidant defense via its pro-oxidant action or other unidentified mechanisms. By manipulating the selenium status, the present study investigated the interactions of EGCG with antioxidant defense systems including the thioredoxin system comprising of thioredoxin and thioredoxin reductase, the glutathione system comprising of glutathione and glutathione reductase coupled with glutaredoxin, and the Nrf2 system. In selenium-optimal mice, EGCG increased hepatic activities of thioredoxin reductase, glutathione reductase and glutaredoxin. These effects of EGCG appeared to be not due to overt pro-oxidant action because melatonin, a powerful antioxidant, did not influence the increase. However, in selenium-deficient mice, with low basal levels of thioredoxin reductase 1, the same dose of EGCG did not elevate the above-mentioned enzymes; intriguingly EGCG in turn activated hepatic Nrf2 response, leading to increased heme oxygenase 1 and NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 protein levels and thioredoxin activity. Overall, the present work reveals that EGCG is a robust inducer of the Nrf2 system only in selenium-deficient conditions. Under normal physiological conditions, in selenium-optimal mice, thioredoxin and glutathione systems serve as the first line defense systems against the stress induced by high doses of EGCG, sparing the activation of the Nrf2 system.

Keywords: Epigallocatechin-3-gallate; Glutathione system; Nrf2 response; Selenium; Thioredoxin system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Catechin / administration & dosage
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Catechin / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Glutaredoxins / metabolism
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Reductase / genetics
  • Glutathione Reductase / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / genetics
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Selenium / deficiency
  • Selenium / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Thioredoxin-Disulfide Reductase / genetics
  • Thioredoxin-Disulfide Reductase / metabolism*
  • Thioredoxins / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Glutaredoxins
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Nfe2l2 protein, mouse
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Thioredoxins
  • Catechin
  • epigallocatechin gallate
  • Glutathione Reductase
  • Thioredoxin-Disulfide Reductase
  • Glutathione
  • Selenium