Green tea extract protects against brain damage
Brain and Green Tea
A compound derived from green tea greatly diminished the neurotoxicity of proteins secreted by the human immunodeficiency virus, suggesting a new approach to the prevention and treatment of HIV-associated dementia, also known as AIDS dementia complex. The disorder is the most severe form of HIV-related neuropsychiatric impairment.
University of South Florida neuroscientist Brian Giunta, MD, reported the findings May 1 at Experimental Biology 2007 in Washington, DC. His presentation was part of the scientific program of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. The study was conducted using a new mouse model for HIV-related dementia developed by Dr. Giunta and Jun Tan, MD, PhD, director of the Neuroimmunology Laboratory at the Silver Child Development Center, USF Department of Psychiatry,
"These findings suggest that EGCG, the green tea-derived compound, may represent a new and natural compound for the prevention and treatment of this devastating disease," Dr. Giunta said.
"This is a very important finding in the prevention and treatment of HIV-related dementia, which is usually observed in the late stages of HIV disease," said Abdul S. Rao, MD, MA, DPhil, senior associate vice president for USF Health and vice dean for research and graduate affairs at the College of Medicine. "The neuroprotective effects of EGCG, the green-tea extract, may offer an alternative to existing mono or combination antiretroviral therapies that are known to have poor central nervous system penetration."
HIV-associated dementia, a debilitating cognitive, emotional, and physical disorder, affects 22 percent of HIV-infected adults and more than half of HIV-infected children. Symptoms often begin with slight changes in behavior, intellectual ability, memory, and muscle coordination. Some patients experience depression-like symptoms such as loss of appetite and motivation. Tasks requiring complex thinking and high concentration become difficult, and motor skills gradually deteriorate over time.
The highly active antiretroviral therapies used in developed nations appear to slow the development of brain damage in patients with HIV-related dementia, making it a protracted disorder rather than an acute one. Unfortunately, these therapies neither cure nor prevent development of HIV-associated dementia and several epidemiologic studies indicate they increase the prevalence of the dementia. Currently, no treatments specifically target this neuropsychiatric disorder.