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Green Tea Assists in Leukemia Cell Death

Green Tea Assists in Leukemia Cell Death

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a green tea component, helps kill lymphocytic leukemia cells, according to Mayo Clinic researchers writing in the journal Blood in March 2004.

Acute lymphocytic leukemia accounts for 30 percent of all childhood cancers and is the most common type of cancer affecting children. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells synthesize and release a substance researchers call VEGF. Lymphocytic leukemia cells also have receptors for VEGF, indicating the cancer cells use VEGF as a survival factor. In other words, VEGF creates a shield to protect the leukemia cells against cell death.

The Mayo Clinic researchers investigated the effect of both VEGF on lymphocytic leukemia cells and whether green-tea-derived epigallocatechin-3-gallate could interfere with VEGF's ability to keep the leukemia cells alive. Leukemia cells treated with VEGF were more resistant to death, the researchers learned. On the other hand, cancer cells treated with VEGF and the green tea component experienced a significantly increased rate of cell death in 8 of the 10 samples.

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate also exerted a number of other effects that indicated it was interfering with VEGF's ability to keep the leukemia cells alive.


Lee YK, Bone ND, Strege AK, Jelinek DF, Kay NE. VEGF Receptor Phosphorylation Status and Apoptosis is Modulated by a Green Tea Component, Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) in B cell Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Blood. 2004 Mar 2 [Epub ahead of print].

Key concepts: Green tea, EGCG, leukemia