Green Tea Protects Fatty Livers After Transplants

Over the past two months, I've posted a number of stories and blogs detailing the cancer-fighting properties of green tea and green tea extract.

Apparently, the same chemical -- the flavonoid EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) that was found to be a useful tool in fighting prostate cancer -- may also protect transplanted livers, especially fatty ones, from damage due to restrictions in blood flow, commonly called ischemias.

Due to the ongoing obesity epidemic, 20 percent of this country's population has fatty livers (a condition called hepatic steatosis) -- organs that are far more sensitive to ischemias. As a result, the number of suitable organ donors for liver transplants has fallen. Even though nearly one-third of all donated livers suffer from hepatic steatosis, longer waiting lists are forcing practitioners to consider using these organs anyway.

To test the protective effect of EGCG, researchers compared the survival rate of mice that were injected with the flavonoid with those that weren't prior to surgery. Mice receiving EGCG showed a survival rate of 100 percent, versus 65 percent for those that didn't. Tissue analysis showed the EGCG mice had decreased necrosis (cell death) and retained a higher percentage of viable tissue, demonstrating that the flavonoid protected the liver from injury.

As a bonus, further research suggested the presence of EGCG reduced liver fat content by some 55 percent.

Liver Transplantation February 17, 2005, Volume 11, Issue 3, pgs. 298-308

Science Blog February 18, 2005

Yahoo News February 23, 2005

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