Green Tea May Help in HIV Prevention
Ingredient in Green Tea May Help Block HIV Infection
WebMD News Archive
Nov. 10, 2003 -- Green tea's rapidly expanding list of health
benefits has just gotten longer. A new study suggests that the main ingredient
in green tea may play a role in preventing HIV infection.
Although merely drinking green tea won't provide enough of this
ingredient to get this particular anti-HIV health benefit, laboratory tests
show that high concentrations of it can prevent the binding of HIV to human
immune cells in the laboratory, which is the first step in HIV infection.
The findings, published in the November issue of the Journal
of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, suggest that a
class of chemicals called catechins found in green tea, particularly the
chemical EGCG, is protective against HIV infection. Catechins are widely
believed to be responsible for green tea's anticancer and heart-health
Green Tea Fights HIV Infection
In the study, Japanese researchers demonstrated in the lab that
EGCG blocked the binding of the HIV virus to human immune cells known as T
cells. Specifically, the green tea ingredient attached itself to HIV's usual
target on the T cell, and therefore protected the cell from infection with the
In an editorial that accompanies the study, researcher William
T. Shearer, MD, PhD, of the Baylor College of Medicine, and colleagues say they
are also looking at using advanced computer programs to better define the
nature and the power of EGCG's protective effects in HIV infection.
If further studies confirm these results, researchers say the
green tea ingredient may serve as a model for new HIV drug therapies to prevent
the progression of the disease.