Tuberculosis has proven to be one of the world's great killer. Not only is Mycobacterium tuberculosis deadly, it is becoming more drug-resistant every day.
Tuberculosis infects approximately one third of all people on earth. As of 2004, the annual death rate was 1.6 million people (CDC).
Effective treatment takes months and patient compliance is difficult. Incomplete treatments inevitably lead to multidrug resistant tuberculosis strains (MDR TB).
The spread of modern tuberculosis has also increased with the epidemic spread of HIV/AIDS.
Since green tea research has shown synergistic enhancement of some drug therapies as well as some direct effects on drug resistant diseases, researchers are studying green tea polyphenols and extract as a candidate for adjunctive therapy for tuberculosis.
Green tea tuberculosis research shows antioxidant protection
One animal study with tuberculosis infected animals found that high oxidative stress levels returned to normal after seven days of green tea extract ingestion compared to controls. Antioxidant parameters included catalase levels, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, erythrocyte glutathione, total thiol, and lipid peroxidation (Guleria RS, Protective effect of green tea extract against the erythrocytic oxidative stress injury during mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in mice, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, July 2002).
Green tea tuberculosis research shows reduced Mycobacterium survival
One reason tuberculosis is difficult to eradicate is its persistence within macrophage cells in the body. A target for reducing this persistence is the host molecule tryptophan-aspartate-containing coat protein or TACO.
A study found that EGCG from green tea can down-regulate the TACO gene transcription by inhibiting the Sp1 transcription factor.
The result was reduced survival of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Anand PK, Green tea polyphenol inhibits Mycobacterium tuberculosis survival within human macrophages, International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 2006).
Green tea tuberculosis research shows triclosan enhancement
Triclosan, a commonly used bactericide, is a candidate for inhibiting enoyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) reductase, one of the targets for tuberculosis therapies.
A green tea tuberculosis study found that EGCG from green tea interferes with the binding of NADH to Inha, thereby inhibiting the enoyl-ACP reductase of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
In addition, using EGCG and triclosan together was more effective than using either one alone (Sharma SK, Combined effect of epigallocatechin gallate and triclosan on enoyl-ACP reductase of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, March 2008).
Triclosan is already widely used in soaps, toothpastes, mouth washes, deodorants, and cleaning solutions, but is criticized for some side effects including endocrine disruption and facilitating drug resistant bacteria.
Offering an alternative, the University of Michigan School of Public Health found that plain soap is as effective as triclosan in removing bacteria during hand washing and for disease prevention (Plain soap as effective as antibacterial but without the risk, www.physorg.com, August 15, 2007).
If the enoyl-ACP reductase of Mycobacterium tuberculosis proves to be an effective target for treating tuberculosis, then it's possible that the addition of EGCG from green tea could reduce the therapeutic amounts of triclosan needed, thus reducing the risk of side effects.
Will green tea be useful against tuberculosis?
Green tea and EGCG, the primary antioxidant polyphenol from green tea, may eventually help with antioxidant protection, targeting tuberculosis pathways, and enhancing drug treatments.
But these studies are preliminary for now and further research would be needed before therapeutic protocols could be developed.
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This page last updated by Sharon Jones.
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