Green tea, next to water, is the most popular and commonly consumed beverage in the world, especially in eastern countries. In prior studies we have shown that the polyphenolic fraction isolated from green tea (GTP) exerts antigenotoxic effects in various mutagenicity test systems (Mutat. Res., 223: 273–285, 1989) and that its topical application or oral feeding in drinking water protects against polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-induced skin tumor initiation and complete carcinogenesis in SENCAR and BALB/c mice [Cancer Lett., 42: 7–12, 1988; Carcinogenesis (Lond.), 10: 411–415, 1989] and UV B radiation-induced photocarcinogenesis in SKH-1 hairless mice [Carcinogenesis (Lond.), 12: 1527–1530, 1991]. In the present study we assessed the effect of skin application of GTP to SENCAR mice on 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) and other skin tumor promoter-caused induction of epidermal ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity. Topical application of GTP to mouse skin inhibited TPA-induced epidermal ODC activity in a dose-dependent manner. The inhibitory effect of GTP was also dependent on the time of its application relative to TPA treatment. Maximum inhibitory effect was observed when GTP was applied 30 min prior to topical application of TPA. GTP application to animals also inhibited the induction of epidermal ODC activity caused by several structurally different mouse skin tumor promoters. In order to identify which of the specific epicatechin derivatives present in GTP is responsible for these inhibitory effects, they were isolated from GTP and evaluated for their inhibitory effects against TPA-caused induction of epidermal ODC activity. Among these, (−)epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which was the major constituent present in GTP by weight, exerted the maximum inhibition. EGCG also showed greater inhibitory effects against TPA-caused induction of epidermal ODC activity when compared with several other naturally occurring polyphenols. The results of this study suggest that GTP, specifically its epicatechin derivative EGCG, could provide anti-tumor-promoting effects against a wide spectrum of skin tumor promoters.


Supported by USPHS Grants ES-1900 and P-30-AR-39750, American Institute for Cancer Research Grant 90A47, and research funds from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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