Affiliation: Laboratoire deMedecine Moleculaire, Universite du Quebec a Montreal-Hopital Sainte-Justine, C.P. 8888, Succursale Centre-ville, Montreal, Quebec, CanadaH3C 3P8
The concept of cancer prevention by use of naturally occuring substances that could be included in the diet is under investigation as a practical approach towards reducing cancer incidence, and therefore the mortality and morbidity associated with this disease. Tea, which is the most popularly consumed beverage aside from water, has been particularly associated with decreased risk of various proliferative diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis in humans. Various studies have provided evidence that polyphenols are the strongest biologically active agents in green tea. Green tea polyphenols (GTPs) mainly consist of catechins (3-flavanols), of which (-)-epigallocatechin gallate is the most abundant and the most extensively studied. Recent observations have raised the possibility that green tea catechins, in addition to their antioxidative properties, also affect the molecular mechanisms involved in angiogenesis, extracellular matrix degradation, regulation of cell death and multidrug resistance. This article will review the effects and the biological activities of green tea catechins in relation to these mechanisms, each of which plays a crucial role in the development of cancer in humans. The extraction of polyphenols from green tea, as well as their bioavailability, are also discussed since these two important parameters affect blood and tissue levels of the GTPs and consequently their biological activities. In addition, general perspectives on the application of dietary GTPs as novel antiangiogenic and antitumor compounds are also presented.