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Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders

Study in rats finds polyphenol compounds affect areas involved with learning and memory

THURSDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- Green tea may counter the cognitive problems that come with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a new study suggests.

Green tea polyphenols (GTP) appear to negate the increased oxidative stress that affects brain tissue in areas involved in learning and memory in people with OSA, reports the study, published in the second issue for May of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. GTPs are known to possess antioxidant properties.

The conclusion is based on giving drinking water laced with GTP to rats intermittently deprived of oxygen during 12-hour "night" cycles -- a condition that mimics the intermittent hypoxia (IH) that humans with OSA experience. The rats that drank green tea-treated water performed significantly better in a maze than rats that consumed plain water.

"GTP-treated rats exposed to IH displayed significantly greater spatial bias for the previous hidden platform position, indicating that GTPs are capable of attenuating IH-induced spatial learning deficits," lead author Dr. David Gozal, director of Kosair Children's Hospital Research Institute at the University of Louisville, said in a prepared statement. He added that GTPs "may represent a potential interventional strategy for patients" with sleep-disordered breathing.

"OSA has been increasingly recognized as a serious and frequent health condition with potential long-term morbidities that include learning and psychological disabilities," Gozal said. "A growing body of evidence suggests that the adverse neurobehavioral consequences imposed by IH stem, at least in part, from oxidative stress and inflammatory signaling cascades."

More information

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more about green tea.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 15, 2008

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