Scientists from Lancaster University and the University of Leeds have discovered that a compound found in green tea could prevent deaths from heart attacks and strokes caused by atherosclerosis.
Funded by the British Heart Foundation, scientists are studying a compound in green tea that reduces amyloid plaques in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the compound is also known for breaking up and dissolving potentially dangerous protein plaques found in the blood vessels.
Atherosclerosis is developed fatty-acid in our arteries that reduce the flow of blood to the heart and brain. If remain untreated, the protein called apolipoprotein A-1 (apoA-1) can form amyloid deposits, which are similar in structure to those associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
All this happens within the atherosclerotic plaques. Here the proteins increase the size of the plaques, further restricting blood flow and thus increase the risk of heart attack.
Researchers found that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), most commonly associated with green tea, binds to the amyloid fibers of apoA-1. This converts the fibers to smaller soluble molecules that are less likely to be damaging to blood vessels.
Scientists are now putting their effort in order to discover ways of introducing effective amounts of EGCG into the bloodstream without it being necessary to drink large and potentially harmful quantities of green tea.
David Middleton, Professor in Chemistry at Lancaster University, said: “The health benefits of green tea have been widely promoted and it has been known for some time that EGCG can alter the structures of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”
“Our results show that this intriguing compound might also be effective against the types of plaques which can cause heart attacks and strokes.”
Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Our bodies are very good at breaking down EGCG so swapping your cuppa for green tea is unlikely to make a big difference with respect to your heart health.”But by engineering the molecule slightly, we might be able to make new medicines to treat heart attack and stroke.”
Professor Sheena Radford, Director of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology at the University of Leeds and co-author of the research, said: “The findings of this round of studies are very encouraging. We now need to apply the best scientific techniques to find how we can take the molecular EGCG element from green tea, and turn it into a functioning tool to combat life-limiting health issues.”
The study is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.