Theaflavin is a polyphenol found in black tea, along with related compounds theaflavin-3-gallate and Theaflavin-3,3’-digallate. Black tea, one of the most common beverages consumed worldwide, is made from the fermentation of green tea leaves. During this process, green tea polyphenols are modified into the theaflavins. These naturally occurring compounds demonstrate beneficial effects in a variety of diseases.
Recent studies have found that theaflavins reduce cell proliferation and induce apoptosis of ovarian cancer cells. These compounds also work against a cisplatin resistant ovarian cancer cell line A2780/CP70. Further studies with theaflavin-3, 3’-digallate showed that cells were arrested in the G2 stage of the cell cycle.
Additionally, theaflavins can act as anti-inflammatory compounds. When used in the LPS model for inflammation, theaflavin-3,3’-digallate decreased expression of cytokine inflammation markers TNFa, IL-1b, and IL-6. This occurred in both an in vitro and in vivo system, while showing very little cytotoxic effects.
An antimicrobial mechanism is postulated for Theaflavins. A recent manuscript shows that all of the theaflavins can inhibit 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR), a key enzyme in bacterial terpenoid biosynthesis, in an uncompetitive manner.
The Theaflavin family of molecules is available from LKT Laboratories, Inc.
1. Gao Y., Rankin GO., Tu, Y., and Chen YC., “Inhibitory Effects of the Four Main Theaflavin Derivatives Found in Black Tea on Ovarian Cancer Cells.” Anticancer Res. 2016 Feb;36(2):643-51.
2. Tu Y., Kim E., Gao Y., et al. “Theaflavin-3,3’-digallate induces apoptosis and G2 cell cycle arrest through the Akt/MDM2/p53 pathway in cisplatin-resistant ovarian cancer A2780/CP70 cells.” Int. J. Oncol. 2016 Jun;48(6):2657-65. Doi: 10.3892/ijo.2016.3472.
3. Wu Y., Jin F., Wang Y., et al. “In vitro and in vivo anti-inflammatory effects of theaflavin-3,3’-digallate on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation.” Eur. J. Pharmacol. 2017 Jan 5;794:52-60. Doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2016.11.027
4. Hui X., Yue, Q., Zhang DD., et al. “Antimicrobial mechanism of theaflavins: They target 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase, the key enzyme of the MEP terpenoid biosynthetic pathway.” Sci Rep. 2016 Dec 12;6:38945. Doi: 10.1038/srep38945.