Growth inhibition of leukemic cells by (-)-epigallocatechin gallate, the main constituent of green tea

Life Sci. 1998;63(16):1397-403. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(98)00406-8.


In this report, we presented the results that EGCG, the main constituent of the polyphenols present in Japanese green tea inhibited growth of leukemic cell lines of both human and mice. The proliferation of human leukemic cell lines and mouse NFS60 cell line was inhibited by EGCG. Sensitivity of each line to EGCG was different, and more than 50% of DNA synthesis was reduced in all the cell lines in the presence of 50 microM EGCG. On the other hand, normal hematopoietic progenitor cells retained their natural function of supplying mature cells of various lineages in the presence of less than 10 microM EGCG in vitro. Even in the presence of 100 microM EGCG, half the colonies containing all the lineages of cells were developed. All the dead cells of each line showed characteristics of apoptosis, which might be due to inhibition by EGCG of growth factors' signaling. Besides anticarcinogenic activity, EGCG is expected to have a new function for leukemia therapy without side effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Catechin / pharmacology
  • Cell Division / drug effects*
  • Cell Lineage / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • DNA Fragmentation / drug effects
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / pharmacology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-3 / pharmacology
  • Leukemia / drug therapy
  • Leukemia / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interleukin-3
  • Tea
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Catechin
  • DNA
  • epigallocatechin gallate