The compound epigallocatechine-3-gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol found in green tea leaves, may be of particular benefit to patients struggling with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis – both related to bone marrow disorders, according to the researchers.
Patients with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis are susceptible to a frequently fatal condition called light chain amyloidosis, in which parts of the body's own antibodies become misshapen and can accumulate in various organs, including the heart and kidneys.
"The idea here is two-fold: We wanted to better understand how light chain amyloidosis works, and how the green tea compound affects this specific protein," said Jan Bieschke, Assistant Professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
Bieschke's team first isolated individual light chains from nine patients with bone marrow disorders that caused multiple myeloma or amyloidosis, then ran lab experiments to determine how the green tea compound affected the light chain protein.
In bone marrow patients the findings, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, showed that the green tea compound transformed light chain amyloid, preventing the misshapen form from replicating and accumulating dangerously.
"In the presence of green tea, the chains have a different internal structure," Bieschke said.