Life Extension Update
Green tea may be protective against Sjögren’s syndrome
A report published in the March, 2007 issue of the journal Autoimmunity described the finding of Medical College of Georgia researchers that an extract from green tea could help prevent the development of Sjögren’s syndrome, a presently incurable autoimmune disease characterized by dryness of the mouth, eyes, and other areas of the body. “Since it is an autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s syndrome causes the body to attack itself and produce extra antibodies that mistakenly target the salivary and lacrimal glands,” explained lead researcher Dr Stephen Hsu, of the college’s School of Dentistry.
An important feature of the disease is infiltration of the salivary and lacrimal (tear) glands by a type of white blood cell known as lymphocytes, which is associated with damage to the glands’ secretory function. After discovering that the green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) inhibits autoantigen expression in cultured human keratinocytes and immortalized normal human salivary acinar cells, Dr Hsu and his associates studied the effect of the compound in an animal model of the disease. Mice that received an oral green tea extract experienced significantly less damage to their salivary glands, with reduced lymphocyte infiltration, as well as lower serum total autoantibody levels, compared to those that did not receive the compound.
“We suspected that green tea would suppress the inflammatory response of this disease,” Dr Hsu stated. “Those treated with the green tea extract beginning at three weeks, showed significantly less damage to those glands over time.”
The team suspects that EGCG activates the body’s defense system again tumor necrosis factor-alpha, a protein produced by the white blood cells during inflammation. “The salivary gland cells treated with EGCG had much fewer signs of cell death caused by TNF-alpha,” Dr. Hsu observed. “We don’t yet know exactly how EGCG makes that happen. That will require further study. In some ways, this study gives us more questions than answers.”
The main symptoms of Sjögren's are chronic dryness of the eyes and mouth, but it is also associated with dryness in external genitalia, the ear, and the nose and throat area. There may also be decreased secretions in the gastrointestinal tract.
Sjögren's is an autoimmune disorder. The symptoms associated with Sjögren's are caused by the infiltration of immune-system cells, usually B and T lymphocytes, into the glands responsible for secreting fluid.
While prescription drugs are available, they are associated with side effects that can reduce the quality of life. Life Extension's comprehensive Sjögren's recommendations include:
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