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Green tea molecule could prevent heart attacks

Friday June 1st, 2018

A compound in green tea could be used to help prevent deaths from heart attacks and strokes caused by atherosclerosis, researchers reported today.

Researchers from Lancaster University and the University of Leeds, England, found that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is most commonly associated with green tea, breaks up and dissolves potentially dangerous protein plaques found in the blood vessels.

In advanced stages of atherosclerosis, apolipoprotein A-1 (apoA-1) can form amyloid deposits, which are similar in structure to those associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Those deposits build up within atherosclerotic plaques, increase the size of the plaques, which further restrict blood flow. This increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

However, writing in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the team says that EGCG binds to the amyloid fibres of apoA-1, which converts the fibres to smaller soluble molecules that are less likely to be damaging to blood vessels.

David Middleton, professor in Chemistry at Lancaster University, said: “The health benefits of green tea have been widely promoted and it has been known for some time that EGCG can alter the structures of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Our results show that this intriguing compound might also be effective against the types of plaques which can cause heart attacks and strokes.”

Professor Sheena Radford, director of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology at the University of Leeds and co-author of the study, said: “The findings of this round of studies are very encouraging. We now need to apply the best scientific techniques to find how we can take the molecular EGCG element from green tea, and turn it into a functioning tool to combat life-limiting health issues.”

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the study said although swapping black tea for green is unlikely to make a big difference with respect to heart health, engineering the molecule slightly could lead to new medicines to treat heart attack and stroke.

The team is now looking into how large amounts of EGCG could be introduced into the bloodstream without the need to drink large – and potentially harmful – quantities of green tea.

Journal of Biological Chemistry 1 June 2018

Tags: Diet & Food | Heart Health | UK News

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