Green tea may help those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis

There are a number of reasons why people should increase their consumption of green tea. Green tea is already known to have anti-oxidant benefits that can help prevent cancer and cardiovascular (CV) disease, and according to findings from the lab of Associate Professor Salah-uddin Ahmed, small molecules present in green tea can also help prevent inflammation and joint destruction caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory joint disorder that affects over two million Americans. It is a leading cause of work-related disabilities and carries significant health care costs due to expensive, yet not entirely effective, therapies that also carry significant toxicity. Ahmed is testing the ability of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a potent anti-oxidant found in green tea to prevent inflammation in cells from the synovial tissues from RA patients. His lab found that EGCG can block inflammatory compounds called ‘cytokines’ that mediate chronic inflammation and propagate joint degradation in those with RA.

Patients suffering from RA develop CV complications over time and this results in higher risk for mortality and reduced life span. Ahmed is investigating the epigenetic mechanisms responsible for CV complications and also testing novel compounds that can reverse this process.

“The success of these studies may lead to a significant advancement in the development of EGCG or its synthetic analogs as potential treatment for RA and other autoimmune diseases,” said Ahmed. His work is supported by research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Arthritis Foundation.