The catechins found in green tea may benefit arthritis patients by reducing the degradation of cartilage, according to an in vitro study conducted at the University of Sheffield Medical School in the UK.
The new research, published in the March issue of the Journal of Nutrition (132:341-46, 2002), was based on the premise that the catechins (polyphenolic compounds) found in green tea can reduce arthritis inflammation.
"Polyphenolic compounds from green tea have been shown to reduce inflammation in a murine model of inflammatory arthritis, but no studies have been undertaken to investigate whether these compounds are protective to joint tissues," said David Buttle, one of the study's authors.
The researchers studied bovine and human cartilage samples, which were cultured with and without reagents known to accelerate cartilage breakdown, and then catechins were added to the mix. They found that catechins, and particularly those containing a gallate ester, effectively prevented collagen breakdown. Furthermore, no toxic effects were noted.
Researchers concluded that some green tea catechins may be protective to cartilage. In addition, they stated that the consumption of green tea might prevent arthritis damage and benefit patients by reducing inflammation and slowing cartilage breakdown. However, they stressed that additional studies are required to determine whether catechins can effectively prevent cartilage breakdown in humans.