Increasing evidence has expanded the role of green tea from a traditional beverage to a source of pharmacologically active molecules with diverse health benefits. However, conclusive clinical results are needed to better elucidate the cancer-preventive and therapeutic effects of green tea polyphenols (GTPs). Areas covered: The authors describe GTPs' chemical compositions and metabolic biotransformations, and their recent developments in drug discovery, focusing on their cancer chemopreventive and therapeutic effects. They then review the recent development of GTP-loaded nanoparticles and GTP prodrugs. Expert opinion: GTPs possess potent anticarcinogenic activities through interfering with the initiation, development and progression phases of cancer. There are several challenges (e.g. poor bioavailability) in developing GTPs as therapeutic agents. Use of nanoparticle-based delivery systems has provided unique advantages over purified GTPs. However, there is still a need to determine the actual magnitude and pharmacological mechanisms of GTPs encapsulated in nanoparticles, in order to address newly emerging safety issues associated with the potential 'local overdose' effect. The use of Pro- epigallocatechin gallate (Pro-EGCG) as a prodrug appears to offer improved in vitro stability as well as better in vivo bioavailability and efficacies in a number of animal studies, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic agent for further study and development.
Keywords: Bioavailability; EGCG; biotransformation; cancer; catechin; epigenetic target; nanoparticles; pharmacology; pro-EGCG; target delivery.