A study has found that green tea’s astringent catechin component (EGCG) breaks down tau protein, which is known to cause Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.
Although the academic community has reported that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the complex steps of beta-amyloid protein accumulation and tau protein capture, no treatment has yet been found that targets tau protein. The only Alzheimer’s disease drug ‘Aducanumab’ approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a method that removes beta-amyloid protein, and its main effect is to delay the onset of the disease. The medical community believes that the tangled tau protein mass must be removed in order to prevent the disease itself from developing.
A research team from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the United States published the results of a study in the international scientific journal Nature Communications on the 16th (local time) that green tea catechins break down the tangled tau protein.
Previously, it was confirmed that green tea catechins have molecules that can break down beta-amyloid protein. However, due to its nature binding to other proteins in the process of entering the body and reducing their effectiveness, studies using them as therapeutics have not been actively carried out.
In order to check whether the green tea catechin component has the effect of breaking down the bound tau protein, the research team incubated this component directly on the protein and observed it over time. As a result, about half of the tangled tau protein was broken down within 3 hours, and all the tangled lumps disappeared after one day. After freezing the decomposing tau protein mass, the research team confirmed that the catechin component breaks the protein into harmless pieces.
Then, through computer simulation, they analyzed which molecules in the green tea catechins were breaking down the tangled tau protein. It has been confirmed that there are hundreds of molecules in the catechin component that can bind better to the tau protein. Among them, 6 molecules were found to play a role in decomposition. The research team selected the two most active molecules in the degradation process and named them ‘CNS-11’ and ‘CNS-17’, respectively.
The research team said, “Scientists have only recently learned the structure of the tangled tau protein.