Wide distribution of [3H](-)-epigallocatechin gallate, a cancer preventive tea polyphenol, in mouse tissue

Carcinogenesis. 1998 Oct;19(10):1771-6. doi: 10.1093/carcin/19.10.1771.


The increasing recognition of green tea and tea polyphenols as cancer preventives has created a need for a study of their bioavailability. For this purpose, we synthesized [3H] (-)-epigallocatechin gallate ([3H]EGCG) with a specific activity of 48.1 GBq/mmol and directly administered the solution into the stomachs of CD-1 female or male mice. Radioactivity in the digestive tract, various organs, blood, urine and feces was measured with an oxidizer at various times after administration and significant radioactivity was found in the previously reported target organs of EGCG and green tea extract (digestive tract, liver, lung, pancreas, mammary gland and skin), as well as other organs (brain, kidney, uterus and ovary and testes) in both sexes. Incorporation of radioactivity in the cells was confirmed by microautoradiography. Within 24 h, 6.6 (females) and 6.4% (males) of total administered radioactivity was excreted in the urine and 37.7 and 33.1% in feces. HPLC analysis of urine from both sexes revealed that 0.03-0.59% of administered [3H]EGCG, along with at least five metabolites, was excreted. In addition, we found that a second, equal administration to female mice after a 6 h interval enhanced tissue levels of radioactivity in blood, brain, liver, pancreas, bladder and bone 4-6 times above those after a single administration. These results suggest that frequent consumption of green tea enables the body to maintain a high level of tea polyphenols and this paper is the first pharmacological evidence of a wide distribution of [3H]EGCG in mouse organs, indicating a similar wide range of target organs for cancer prevention in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Autoradiography
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Catechin / pharmacokinetics
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tritium


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Tea
  • Tritium
  • Catechin
  • epigallocatechin gallate