Green Tea Compound EGCG Extends Lifespan and Healthspan by Fighting Cell Aging

Rate this article

average: 0 out of 5)

average: 0 out of 5)

Rate this article

PRINT Print
Green Tea Compound EGCG Extends Lifespan and Healthspan by Fighting Cell Aging

Aging adults accumulate dysfunctional cells that undergo irreversible growth arrest. However, these so-called senescent cells remain in the body, leaving a trail of inflammatory debris behind and accelerating inflammation and disease. Aging researchers have proposed that targeting the removal of these damaging cells should promote longevity and healthy aging. To test this hunch, researchers have started studying the use of senolytics—drugs or compounds that remove senescent cells from the body.  

One such compound, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), is found in one of the most commonly consumed beverages in the world—green tea. In a study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers out of the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research in Palampur, India, find compelling evidence of EGCG’s senolytic qualities. Authored by Sharma and colleagues, this study exhibits that EGCG extends lifespan in aging mice by fighting back on cellular senescence, which could be why some of the world’s longest-lived cultures are also habitual green tea drinkers. 

The ABCs of EGCG

Made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, green tea is known to have high health-supporting potential, primarily due to its potent antioxidant activity. The high antioxidant content of green tea and its extracts can help to protect the body against damage from oxidative stress—a strong predictor of cellular senescence progression. 

Previous research has found that EGCG extends lifespan in rats and improves healthspan—the years of life lived without developing disease—in worms. However, studies on the role of EGCG in fighting senescence have been limited to cell-based research in the lab. That is, until now, with this study by Sharma and colleagues that addresses how cellular senescence progresses in various mouse organs, with an emphasis on adipose (fat) tissue, the intestines, and the immune system. 

Green Tea Compound EGCG Extends Lifespan and Healthspan by Fighting Cell Aging

EGCG Extends Lifespan and Fights Cellular Senescence

This study looked at the effects of EGCG consumption on mice aged 6, 10, 14, and 18 months old—ranging from the mid-30s to mid-60s in human equivalence. One of the most compelling findings in this study was that EGCG consumption extended their lifespans, with the mice receiving EGCG experiencing a 46% lower risk of death than control mice. 

The researchers speculated that these improved survival rates were likely due to EGCG’s senolytic qualities, which they measured via markers of senescence. They found that the rates of cellular senescence were tissue-dependent, with the adipose tissue and intestines being most affected by this inflammatory process. 

Compared to young mice, the aging mice steadily accumulated DNA damage and senescence markers in their fat and intestinal tissue, while EGCG consumption markedly attenuated these age-related responses. The rates of senescence and DNA damage were not consistent throughout the lifespan—instead, the accumulation of aging markers starkly sped up between the ages of 14-18 months (approximately their 50s and 60s in human years.) 

Senescent cells accelerate aging through the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), a cascade of destructive compounds that cause inflammatory damage to nearby cells. In this study, markers of SASP were most distinct in the aging adipose tissue—and were alleviated by EGCG consumption. 

The immune system is also significantly affected by aging. For example, aging increases pro-inflammatory immune cell activity. Sharma and colleagues found that EGCG reduced this age-related immune inflammation and increased the activity of helpful immune cells. EGCG also promoted autophagy in the aging mice, a type of cellular trash removal that eliminates damaged or dysfunctional cells to make room for new, healthy ones. 

Lastly, EGCG consumption improved the diversity of beneficial microbes in the gut. Reductions in gut microbiome diversity are common with age and can contribute to intestinal dysfunction in older adults. Further, gut dysbiosis is directly linked to the induction of cellular senescence, and microbiome modulators have exhibited anti-senescence activity. 

A Green Light for Green Tea

This research is the first to assess the effects of EGCG on cellular senescence in living animals, showing that this green tea compound dramatically improves both healthspan and lifespan in mice by fighting cellular senescence. Sharma and colleagues provide evidence that the adipose tissue is a highly vulnerable site of age-associated DNA damage and cellular senescence—even in mice that were not obese.

As previous studies have found that eliminating senescent cells alleviates disorders related to excess body weight, this research further suggests the harmful implications of senescent adipose tissue. As Sharma and colleagues conclude in their paper, “Together, it is reasonable to assert that chronic EGCG consumption has the potential to counter both cellular senescence and SASP, and thus EGCG is a unique candidate for developing cellular senescence-based anti-aging strategies.” In other words, pumping the brakes on your coffee habit and hopping on the tea train looks to be a wise choice for supporting a long and healthy life.

Show references

Niu Y, Na L, Feng R, et al. The phytochemical, EGCG, extends lifespan by reducing liver and kidney function damage and improving age-associated inflammation and oxidative stress in healthy rats. Aging Cell. 2013;12(6):1041-1049. doi:10.1111/acel.12133

Palmer AK, Xu M, Zhu Y, et al. Targeting senescent cells alleviates obesity-induced metabolic dysfunction. Aging Cell. 2019;18(3):e12950. doi:10.1111/acel.12950

Sharma R, Kumar R, Sharma A, Goel A, Padwad Y. Long-term consumption of green tea EGCG enhances murine health span by mitigating multiple aspects of cellular senescence in mitotic and post-mitotic tissues, gut dysbiosis, and immunosenescence. J Nutr Biochem. 2022;107:109068. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2022.109068

Xiong LG, Chen YJ, Tong JW, Gong YS, Huang JA, Liu ZH. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate promotes healthy lifespan through mitohormesis during early-to-mid adulthood in Caenorhabditis elegans. Redox Biol. 2018;14:305-315. doi:10.1016/j.redox.2017.09.019

Yoshimoto S, Loo TM, Atarashi K, et al. Obesity-induced gut microbial metabolite promotes liver cancer through senescence secretome [published correction appears in Nature. 2014 Feb 20;506(7488):396. Nature. 2013;499(7456):97-101. doi:10.1038/nature12347

]

Rate this article

Rate this article

Share This Article


Share your Comments
Enrich and inform our Longevity Community. Your opinion matters!