A new wrinkle for green tea

The potential health benefits of green tea have been widely discussed in the press as well as the scholarly literature (e.g., see our earlier post on the ability of green tea-derived compounds to delay neurodegeneration). Add one more to the list: the green tea component epigallocatechin gallate prevents activation of collagen-degrading proteases in response to UV irradiation. This might in turn help prevent skin wrinkling, a consequence of protease action that is one of the most outwardly visible signs of aging.

Careful readers will remember a similarity between this report and another recent paper about a plant-derived compound: the plant alkaloid berberine has a similar effect on UV-irradiated skin cells. We know that senescent fibroblasts are a major source of matrix metalloproteases following DNA damage. Just as with the earlier paper, the important question is whether these plant-derived molecules are preventing activation of the tumor-suppressive senescence pathway (and therefore risking tumorigenesis later in life), or instead preventing senescent cells from engaging in a deleterious secretory program that damages the tissue microenvironment for no obvious good reason.