DNA degradation by water extract of green tea in the presence of copper ions: implications for anticancer properties.

Research paper by Arshi A Malik, Sonish S Azam, Naghma N Hadi, S M SM Hadi

Indexed on: 02 May '03Published on: 02 May '03Published in: Phytotherapy Research


In recent years a number of reports have documented the chemopreventive effect of green tea consumption on various types of cancers such as those of bladder, prostate, esophagus and stomach. This property is attributed to the presence in green tea of polyphenols known as catechins. These include epigallocatechin-3-gallate, epigallocatechin and epicatechin. In addition to their antioxidant properties plant derived polyphenolics are also capable of oxidative DNA damage particularly in the presence of transition metal ions. We have recently proposed a mechanism for cytotoxic action of plant-derived polyphenols against cancer cells that involves mobilization of endogenous copper and consequent prooxidant action. In partial support of the idea, in the present paper we show that water extract of green tea is considerably more efficient than black tea extract in DNA cleavage in the presence of copper ions. Green tea extract also shows a higher rate of Cu(II) reduction and consequent hydroxyl radical formation. Cu(II) reduction is presumably accompanied by the formation of 'oxidized species' of tea polyphenols, which in turn also appear to catalyze the reduction of Cu(II) leading to redox cycling of copper ions. The results are discussed in relation to the structural differences between polyphenols of green and black tea.