Posted by Leanne Kodsman on
Known for its antioxidant properties, the EGCG found in green tea is a popular ingredient in many dietary supplements. New research looks at how this compound is able to potentially dissolve plaque buildup in blood vessels, and the implications of these properties in preventing serious health problems like heart attacks and strokes
New research suggests that a natural polyphenol commonly found in green tea could help to prevent the occurrence of heart attack and stroke. Known to have antioxidant properties, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is a common ingredient in many supplements. EGCG is now being looked at for its plaque-busting abilities, with a new study suggesting that it can break up and even dissolve potentially dangerous plaques found in blood vessels that can lead to health issues like heart attacks and strokes.
EGCG and AopA-1
Researchers suggest that EGCG may work in tandem with heparin to remodel apolipoprotein A-1 (ApoA-1), a protein that can form the characteristic amyloid deposits, allowing it to more easily dissolve. The polyphenol, in the presence of heparin, bind to the amyloid fibers of ApoA-1, making them into smaller, soluble molecules that move more easily through blood vessels without causing buildup or damage.
From here, the team is looking to find ways to introduce EGCG into the blood stream in new and effective ways that do not require drinking large (and possibly harmful) quantities of green tea.
Health Benefits & Treatment Options
One approach scientists are investigating is to modify the chemical structure of the polyphenol so that it would be more easily absorbed from the digestive system and more resistant to metabolizing. Another is to look at a way to deliver the molecule directly to the plaques themselves, via injection or similar method.
Green tea has long been promoted as having health benefits, and scientists were already aware that EGCG is able to alter the structures of amyloid plaques in the brain - a classic hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The new research demonstrates that it could also be effective against the types of plaques that lead to other issues, like heart attack and stroke.
More research is needed to create a form of EGCG that is usable as a treatment option. Consumed normally, the compound is quickly broken down by the body - so simply drinking green tea is unlikely to have a significant impact in improving heart health.
Further Reading & References:
Green Tea Compound Dissolves Plaques in Blood Vessels, May Boost Heart Health. GEN: Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. 04 June 2018.
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate remodels apolipoprotein A-I amyloid fibrils into soluble oligomers in the presence of heparin. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 31 May 2018.
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