Theanine: the unique amino acid in the tea plant as an oral hepatoprotective agent

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2017 May;26(3):384-391. doi: 10.6133/apjcn.032017.11.


For thousands of years, humans have consumed tea made from leaves of Camellia sinensis, first as a medicinal herb and then as a widely popular beverage. In the past 10 years, theanine, a tea-derived, unique, nonproteinic amino acid, has been extensively studied for its health benefits. Recently, multiple lines of evidence have proven its beneficial effects on hepatic and immune functions. One possible mechanism for its biological activity involves the downregulation of the inflammatory response through the induction of nitric oxide production and glutathione synthesis. In this review, we summarize published results describing the potential mechanisms for these beneficial health effects and provide new insight into how theanine can be therapeutic for liver injury and chronic liver disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Availability
  • Camellia sinensis / chemistry*
  • Glutamates / administration & dosage*
  • Glutamates / pharmacokinetics
  • Glutamates / therapeutic use
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Liver Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Plant Leaves
  • Tea / chemistry*


  • Glutamates
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Tea
  • theanine