Structure-activity relationships of tea compounds against human cancer cells.J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Jan 24; 55(2):243-53.JA
The content of the biologically active amino acid theanine in 15 commercial black, green, specialty, and herbal tea leaves was determined as the 2,4-dinitrophenyltheanine derivative (DNP-theanine) by a validated HPLC method. To define relative anticarcinogenic potencies of tea compounds and teas, nine green tea catechins, three black tea theaflavins, and theanine as well as aqueous and 80% ethanol/water extracts of the same tea leaves were evaluated for their ability to induce cell death in human cancer and normal cells using a tetrazolium microculture (MTT) assay. Compared to untreated controls, most catechins, theaflavins, theanine, and all tea extracts reduced the numbers of the following human cancer cell lines: breast (MCF-7), colon (HT-29), hepatoma (liver) (HepG2), and prostate (PC-3) as well as normal human liver cells (Chang). The growth of normal human lung (HEL299) cells was not inhibited. The destruction of cancer cells was also observed visually by reverse phase microscopy. Statistical analysis of the data showed that (a) the anticarcinogenic effects of tea compounds and of tea leaf extracts varied widely and were concentration dependent over the ranges from 50 to 400 microg/mL of tea compound and from 50 to 400 microg/g of tea solids; (b) the different cancer cells varied in their susceptibilities to destruction; (c) 80% ethanol/water extracts with higher levels of flavonoids determined by HPLC were in most cases more active than the corresponding water extracts; and (d) flavonoid levels of the teas did not directly correlate with anticarcinogenic activities. The findings extend related observations on the anticarcinogenic potential of tea ingredients and suggest that consumers may benefit more by drinking both green and black teas.