Therapeutic Effects of Catechins in Less Common Neurological and Neurodegenerative Disorders

Nutrients. 2021 Jun 29;13(7):2232. doi: 10.3390/nu13072232.


In recent years, neurological and neurodegenerative disorders research has focused on altered molecular mechanisms in search of potential pharmacological targets, e.g., imbalances in mechanisms of response to oxidative stress, inflammation, apoptosis, autophagy, proliferation, differentiation, migration, and neuronal plasticity, which occur in less common neurological and neurodegenerative pathologies (Huntington disease, multiple sclerosis, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and Down syndrome). Here, we assess the effects of different catechins (particularly of epigalocatechin-3-gallate, EGCG) on these disorders, as well as their use in attenuating age-related cognitive decline in healthy individuals. Antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties of EGCG -due to their phenolic hydroxyl groups-, as well as its immunomodulatory, neuritogenic, and autophagic characteristics, makes this catechin a promising tool against neuroinflammation and microglia activation, common in these pathologies. Although EGCG promotes the inhibition of protein aggregation in experimental Huntington disease studies and improves the clinical severity in multiple sclerosis in animal models, its efficacy in humans remains controversial. EGCG may normalize DYRK1A (involved in neural plasticity) overproduction in Down syndrome, improving behavioral and neural phenotypes. In neurological pathologies caused by environmental agents, such as FASD, EGCG enhances antioxidant defense and regulates placental angiogenesis and neurodevelopmental processes. As demonstrated in animal models, catechins attenuate age-related cognitive decline, which results in improvements in long-term outcomes and working memory, reduction of hippocampal neuroinflammation, and enhancement of neuronal plasticity; however, further studies are needed. Catechins are valuable compounds for treating and preventing certain neurodegenerative and neurological diseases of genetic and environmental origin. However, the use of different doses of green tea extracts and EGCG makes it difficult to reach consistent conclusions for different populations.

Keywords: Down syndrome; age-related cognitive decline; antioxidant; catechins; epigallocatechin-3-gallate; fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; multiple sclerosis; neurodegenerative disorders; neurological disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Catechin / pharmacology*
  • Cognitive Aging / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Catechin