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Green Tea Compound may Be a Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

A new study suggests that a compound in green tea may provide therapeutic benefits to people with rheumatoid arthritis.//

The study, presented at the Experimental Biology 2007 in Washington, looks at a potent anti-inflammatory compound derived from green tea. Researchers found that the compound -- called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) -- inhibited the production of several molecules in the immune system that contribute to inflammation and joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

The compound from green tea also was found to suppress the inflammatory products in the connective tissue of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

"Our research is a very promising step in the search for therapies for the joint destruction experienced by people who have rheumatoid arthritis," says Salah-uddin Ahmed, Ph.D., lead researcher on the study. Ahmed, a research investigator with the Division of Rheumatology at the U-M Health System, was selected to present the research at the Experimental Biology meeting as the recipient of the Young Scientist Travel Award, given by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. This study was also selected by the American Society for Nutrition to be featured in a press release.

To conduct the research, the scientists isolated cells called synovial fibroblasts from the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. These fibroblasts -- cells that form a lining of the tissue surrounding the capsule of the joints -- then were cultured in a growth medium and incubated with the green tea compound.

The fibroblasts were then stimulated with pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1?ò, a protein of the immune system known to play an important role in causing joint destruction in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers looked at whether the green tea compound has the capability to block the activity of two potent molecules, IL-6 and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2
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