Green tea is thought to have wide-ranging health benefits, especially in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases, and diabetes. These are all implicated in the development of age-related cognitive impairment, so it’s no surprise that regular drinking of green tea has been suggested as one way to help protect against age-related cognitive decline and dementia. A new mouse study adds to that evidence by showing how a particular compound in green tea promotes neurogenesis.
The chemical EGCG, (epigallocatechin-3 gallate) is a known anti-oxidant, but this study shows that it also has a specific benefit in increasing the production of neural progenitor cells. Like stem cells, these progenitor cells can become different types of cell.
Mice treated with EGCG displayed better object recognition and spatial memory than control mice, and this improved performance was associated with the number of progenitor cells in the dentate gyrus and increased activity in the sonic hedgehog signaling pathway (confirming the importance of this pathway in adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus).
The findings add to evidence that green tea may help protect against cognitive impairment and dementia.
(2012). Green tea epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) promotes neural progenitor cell proliferation and sonic hedgehog pathway activation during adult hippocampal neurogenesis.
Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 56(8), 1292 - 1303.
Full text available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mnfr.201200035/abstract