Huntington's disease is commonly thought to be a hereditary neurodegenerative disease caused by the misfolding of certain proteins, which lose their normal structure and cannot be disposed of by the body. The mutant proteins then accumulate in the brain, where they eventually become toxic to nerve cells. Huntington's is characterized by uncontrolled, jerky movements, an unsteady gait and facial grimaces.
German researchers from the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine Berlin-Buch examined the effects of EGCG in vitro on the accumulation of mutant Huntington's proteins, and found that the extract inhibited aggregation of the proteins.
Lead researcher Professor Erich Wanker examined the effects of EGCG on fruit flies that had been genetically modified to over-express the mutant Huntington's protein, and found that the green tea extract actually inhibited the misfolding of the proteins, which resulted in improved photoreceptor and motor function in the flies.
"Like many so-called 'genetic' disorders, Huntington's disease only emerges when certain protective genes are suppressed while other harmful genes are activated," explained Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate and nutrition author. "As with many other herbs and nutritional supplements, green tea can protect cells and even alter the expression of the underlying genes, sparing people from many diseases once thought to be unavoidable," Adams said.
Further research is needed to determine if the protective effects of EGCG can be obtained through green tea supplements or drinking green tea, which has already been found to be effective in preventing breast cancer, Alzheimer's disease and many other disorders.