Brainy beverage: Study reveals how green tea boosts brain cell production to aid memory

September 5, 2012
Green tea. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

It has long been believed that drinking green tea is good for the memory. Now researchers have discovered how the chemical properties of China's favorite drink affect the generation of brain cells, providing benefits for memory and spatial learning. The research is published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

" is a popular beverage across the world," said Professor Yun Bai from the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China. "There has been plenty of scientific attention on its use in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, but now there is emerging evidence that its chemical properties may impact cellular mechanisms in the brain."

Professor Bai's team focused on the organic chemical EGCG, (epigallocatechin-3 gallate) a key property of green tea. While EGCG is a known anti-oxidant, the team believed it can also have a beneficial effect against age-related degenerative diseases.

"We proposed that EGCG can improve cognitive function by impacting the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis," said Bai. "We focused our research on the hippocampus, the part of the brain which processes information from short-term to long-term ."

The team found that ECGC boosts the production of neural progenitor cells, which like stem cells can adapt, or differentiate, into various types of cells. The team then used laboratory mice to discover if this increased cell production gave an advantage to memory or spatial learning.

"We ran tests on two groups of mice, one which had imbibed ECGC and a control group," said Bai. "First the mice were trained for three days to find a visible platform in their maze. Then they were trained for seven days to find a hidden platform."

The team found that the ECGC treated mice required less time to find the hidden platform. Overall the results revealed that EGCG enhances learning and memory by improving object recognition and spatial memory.

"We have shown that the organic chemical EGCG acts directly to increase the production of neural progenitor , both in glass tests and in mice," concluded Bai. "This helps us to understand the potential for EGCG, and green tea which contains it, to help combat degenerative diseases and memory loss."

This paper is published as part of a collection of articles bringing together high quality research on the theme of and technology with particular relevance to . Browse free articles from Wiley's food science and technology publications including the Journal of Food Science, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture and Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

Explore further: Mechanism discovered for health benefit of green tea, new approach to autoimmune disease

More information: Yanyan Wang, Maoquan Li, Xueqing Xu, Min Song, Huansheng Tao, Yun Bai, 'Green tea epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) promotes neural progenitor cell proliferation and sonic hedgehog pathway activation during adult hippocampal neurogenesis," Mol. Nutr. Food Res., 2012, DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201200035

Related Stories

Recommended for you

We've all got a blind spot, but it can be shrunk

August 31, 2015

You've probably never noticed, but the human eye includes an unavoidable blind spot. That's because the optic nerve that sends visual signals to the brain must pass through the retina, which creates a hole in that light-sensitive ...

Biologists identify mechanisms of embryonic wound repair

August 31, 2015

It's like something out of a science-fiction movie - time-lapse photography showing how wounds in embryos of fruit flies heal themselves. The images are not only real; they shed light on ways to improve wound recovery in ...

New 'Tissue Velcro' could help repair damaged hearts

August 28, 2015

Engineers at the University of Toronto just made assembling functional heart tissue as easy as fastening your shoes. The team has created a biocompatible scaffold that allows sheets of beating heart cells to snap together ...

Research identifies protein that regulates body clock

August 26, 2015

New research into circadian rhythms by researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga shows that the GRK2 protein plays a major role in regulating the body's internal clock and points the way to remedies for jet lag ...

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

August 26, 2015

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That's the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine's discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tgoldman
not rated yet Sep 05, 2012
For 3 paras, EGCG became ECGC -- some quality control please?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.