Green tea (2007) may protect against Sjogren's syndrome

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Researchers say that that a green tea extract could help prevent the development of Sjogren's syndrome.

In Sjogren's the salivary and tear glands are invaded by a type of white blood cell, rendering them less effective. Researchers discovered that a green tea component, polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG,) this invasion or infiltration in human cell cultures, strengthening normal human salivary acinar cells. They studied the effect of the compound in mice and found that those that received an oral green tea extract experienced significantly less damage to their salivary glands, with reduced lymphocyte infiltration, as well as lower serum total autoantibody levels, compared to those that did not receive the compound.

The researchers suspect that EGCG activates our defense system against a protein produced by the white blood cells during inflammation, and which causes cell-death. "The salivary gland cells treated with EGCG had much fewer signs of cell death caused by TNF-alpha," Dr. Hsu observed. "We don't yet know exactly how EGCG makes that happen. That will require further study. In some ways, this study gives us more questions than answers."

Research published: March, 2007, Autoimmunity, Medical College of Georgia researchers Stephen Hsu, et al.