A randomized controlled trial of green tea catechins in protection against ultraviolet radiation-induced cutaneous inflammation

Mark D Farrar, A Nicolaou, KA Clarke, Sarah Mason, KA Massey, Tristan P Dew, REB Watson, G Williamson, Lesley Rhodes

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    Background: Safe systemic protection from the health hazards of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in sunlight is desirable. Green tea is consumed globally and is reported to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be mediated through the impact on cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways. Recent data suggest that green tea catechins (GTCs) reduce acute UVR effects, but human trials examining their photoprotective potential are scarce. Objective: We performed a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial to examine whether GTCs protect against clinical, histologic, and biochemical indicators of UVR-induced inflammation. Design: Healthy adults (aged 18–65 y, phototypes I–II) were randomly allocated to 1350 mg encapsulated green tea extract (540 mg GTC) with 50 mg vitamin C or placebo twice daily for 3 mo. Impact on skin erythema, dermal leukocytic infiltration, and concentrations of proinflammatory eicosanoids was assessed after solar-simulated UVR challenge, and subject compliance was determined through assay of urinary GTC metabolite epigallocatechin glucuronide. Results: Volunteers were assigned to the active (n = 25) or the placebo (n = 25) group. After supplementation, median (IQR) sunburn threshold (minimal erythema dose) was 28 (20–28) and 20 (20–28) mJ/cm2 in the active and placebo groups, respectively (nonsignificant), with no difference in AUC analysis for measured erythema index after a geometric series of 10 UVR doses. Skin immunohistochemistry showed increased neutrophil and CD3+ T-lymphocyte numbers post-UVR in both groups (P <0.01) with no statistically significant differences between groups after supplementation. Cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase metabolites prostaglandin E2 (vasodilator) and 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoicacid (chemoattractant), respectively, increased after UVR (P <0.05), with no differences between supplementation groups. Conclusion: Oral GTC (1080 mg/d) with vitamin C over 3 mo did not significantly reduce skin erythema, leukocyte infiltration, or eicosanoid response to UVR inflammatory challenge. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01032031.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)608-615
    Number of pages7
    JournalThe American journal of clinical nutrition
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


    • green tea catechins
    • human skin
    • inflammation
    • photoprotection
    • ultraviolet radiation


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