Catechins are natural polyphenolic phytochemicals that exist in food and medicinal plants, such as tea, legume and rubiaceae. An increasing number of studies have associated the intake of catechins-rich foods with the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases in humans, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Some studies have demonstrated that catechins could significantly inhibit the excessive oxidative stress through direct or indirect antioxidant effects and promote the activation of the antioxidative substances such as glutathione peroxidases (GPO) and glutathione (GSH), reducing the oxidative damages to the colon. In addition, catechins can also regulate the infiltration and proliferation of immune related-cells, such as neutrophils, colonic epithelial cells, macrophages, and T lymphocytes, helping reduce the inflammatory relations and provide benefits to IBD. Perhaps catechins can further inhibit the deterioration of intestinal lesions through regulating the cell gap junctions. Furthermore, catechins can exert their significant anti-inflammatory properties by regulating the activation or deactivation of inflammation-related oxidative stress-related cell signaling pathways, such as nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB), mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPKs), transcription factor nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2), signal transducer and the activator of transcription 1/3 (STAT1/3) pathways. Finally, catechins can also stabilize the structure of the gastrointestinal micro-ecological environment via promoting the proliferation of beneficial intestinal bacteria and regulating the balance of intestinal flora, so as to relieve the IBD. Furthermore, catechins may regulate the tight junctions (TJ) in the epithelium. This paper elaborates the currently known possible molecular mechanisms of catechins in favor of IBD.
Keywords: catechins; inflammatory bowel disease; mechanisms; oxidative stress; tight junction functionality.