Catechins are polyphenolic compounds—flavanols of the flavonoid family found in a variety of plants. Green tea, wine and cocoa-based products are the main dietary sources of these flavanols. Catechins have potent antioxidant properties, although in some cases they may act in the cell as pro-oxidants. Catechins are reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavengers and metal ion chelators, whereas their indirect antioxidant activities comprise induction of antioxidant enzymes, inhibition of pro-oxidant enzymes, and production of the phase II detoxification enzymes and antioxidant enzymes. Oxidative stress and ROS are implicated in aging and related dysfunctions, such as neurodegenerative disease, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. Due to their antioxidant properties, catechins may be beneficial in preventing and protecting against diseases caused by oxidative stress. This article reviews the biochemical properties of catechins, their antioxidant activity, and the mechanisms of action involved in the prevention of oxidative stress-caused diseases.
Keywords: ROS; cancer; cardiovascular diseases; catechin; neurodegenerative disorders.