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Green Tea Compound May Prevent and Treat Uterine Fibroids

Green tea being poured into a cup from a teapot.
Credit: Maria Tyutina/ Pexels
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According to research published in Scientific Reports, a green tea compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) could be promising for both preventing and treating uterine fibroids.

Uterine fibroids: The most common benign tumors of the uterus

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors made up of smooth muscle cells and a large matrix of connective tissue that grow in and around the muscular wall of the uterus. While they can be very small, some fibroids can become large enough to distort the uterus.

Many people with uterine fibroids do not experience symptoms, however approximately 30% experience severe symptoms including heavy and abnormal uterine bleeding, pelvic pain and infertility.

As the most common benign tumors of the uterus, uterine fibroids affect an estimated 77% of women, with Black and Hispanic women developing them at 1.5–2 times the rate of white women. Uterine fibroids are one of the most common indications for hysterectomy.

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The importance of finding a treatment for such fibroids is described by James Segars Jr., MD, professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Medicine: “There is no standard protocol for uterine fibroid disease management or prevention, no tools to prevent their growth, so finding a safe nonsurgical therapy is important.”

Fibroids collected from living patients

Researchers from JHU set out to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a compound isolated from green tea, which has been reported to show antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects on uterine fibroid cells.

As uterine fibroids have a large extracellular matrix (ECM), the researchers were focused on the effect of EGCG on the expression of three proteins associated with the ECM; fibronectin, cyclin D1 and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) protein.

The researchers dosed human fibroid cells with 100 mcmol/L of EGCG in growth media for 24 hours, and then a western blot was used to test for the abundance of each protein.

Compared to an untreated control group of fibroid cells, EGCG reduced protein levels of fibronectin by 46– 52%, and there was a decrease of up to 86% in CTGF proteins compared with the control group. EGCG was also found to disrupt pathways involved in fibroid tumor cell growth, movement, signaling and metabolism.

“The results from this study show that EGCG targets many signaling pathways involved in fibroid growth, particularly the extracellular matrix,” said Dr. Md Soriful Islam, postdoctoral fellow at JHU School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “EGCG supplements could be an easily accessible and natural way to relieve symptoms and slow fibroid growth.”

Reference: Islam MS, Parish M, Brennan JT, Winer BL, Segars JH. Targeting fibrotic signaling pathways by EGCG as a therapeutic strategy for uterine fibroids. Sci Rep. 2023;13(1):8492. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-35212-6

This article is a rework of a press release issued by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Material has been edited for length and content.