2014 Volume 27 Issue 3+4 Pages 163-174
Although green tea is considered to be a healthy beverage, hepatotoxicity associated with the consumption of green tea extract has been reported. In the present study, we characterized the hepatotoxicity of green tea extract in rats and explored the responsible mechanism. Six-week-old IGS rats received a single intraperitoneal (ip) injection of 200 mg/kg green tea extract (THEA-FLAN 90S). At 8, 24, 48 and 72 hrs and 1 and 3 months after exposure, liver damage was assessed by using blood-chemistry, histopathology, and immunohistochemistry to detect cell death (TUNEL and caspase-3) and proliferative activity (PCNA). Analyses of malondialdehyde (MDA) in serum and the liver and of MDA and thymidine glycol (TG) by immunohistochemistry, as oxidative stress markers, were performed. Placental glutathione S-transferase (GST-P), which is a marker of hepatocarcinogenesis, was also immunohistochemically stained. To examine toxicity at older ages, 200 mg/kg green tea extract was administered to 18-wk-old female rats. In 6-wk-old rats, 12% of males and 50% of females died within 72 hrs. In 18-wk-old rats, 88% died within 72 hrs. The serum levels of aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase and/or total bilirubin increased in both males and females. Single-cell necrosis with positive signs of TUNEL and caspase-3 was seen in perilobular hepatocytes from 8 hrs onward in all lobular areas. PCNA-positive hepatocytes increased at 48 hrs. MDA levels in the serum and liver tended to increase, and MDA- and TG-positive hepatocytes were seen immunohistochemically. GST-P–positive hepatocellular altered foci were detected in one female rat at the 3-month time point. In conclusion, a single injection of green tea extract induced acute and severe hepatotoxicity, which might be associated with lipid peroxidation and DNA oxidative stress in hepatocytes.