Green Tea May Protect Brain of HIV Patients

Patients with HIV often suffer cognitive impairment limiting their ability to learn and remember.

Medications have been unable to alleviate these problems.

Researchers led by Joseph Steiner at Johns Hopkins University recently published a paper reporting that catechins — which naturally occur in green tea and the cacao seed — may help prevent neurological complications caused by HIV.

The report, published in Springer’s Journal of NeuroVirology, described the efforts of researchers who analyzed the effects of 2000 compounds, both natural substances and FDA-approved drugs, on brain cells in the laboratory.

“They identified a series of compounds which may be able to protect neurons in the brain,” according to a report in PsychCentral.

“Nine of these were related to epicatechin, found in cocoa and green tea leaves. Researchers then compared these to resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red wine. They found that epicatechin and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) were the most effective in helping protect neurons by encouraging production of BDNF.

“Although the antioxidant action of epicatechin and EGCG are well known, the discovery that they could be responsible for stimulating the production of BDNF is an exciting prospect for researchers,” according to PsychCentral.

Furthermore, the fact that these compounds easily cross the blood-brain barrier increases their therapeutic potential — this is often a major stumbling block in the development of brain treatments. This provides hope for HIV patients as there is currently no neuroprotective treatment for cognitive impairment.

“Due to its simpler structure and more efficient blood-brain barrier penetration properties, epicatechin might be the best therapeutic candidate for neurodegenerative diseases. These include HIV-associated cognitive disorders where oxidative stress is an important pathophysiological mechanism,” said the authors.

Source: Johns Hopkins, Psych Central, Springer’s Journal of NeuroVirology.

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Green tea and chocolates may help reduce neurological complications linked to HIV, paving way for effective treatment of HIV-related brain disorders, a new study has found.

Research by Joseph Steiner and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University found that a group of plant polyphenols known as catechins, which naturally occur in green tea and the seed of the cacao tree, may help in the prevention of these neurological complications.

The study is published in Journal of NeuroVirology.

Current drug therapy for patients with HIV is unable to control the complete replication of the virus in the brain, and, therefore, is ineffective in the complications associated with neurocognitive impairment in HIV patients.

Previous research has established the critical role of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in supporting the survival and growth of neurons in the brain.

This protein is active in areas of the brain vital to learning, memory and higher thinking. Patients with HIV have been found to have lower levels of BDNF in their brains than healthy individuals suggesting that this could be directly responsible for the cognitive impairment suffered.

In the study, Steiner and colleagues analysed the effects of 2000 compounds, containing both natural substances and FDA-approved drugs, on brain cells in the laboratory.

They identified a series of compounds, which had the potential to help protect neurons in the brain. Nine of these were related to epicatechin, which is found in cocoa and green tea leaves.

Further screening and comparison with resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red wine, specifically identified epicatechin and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) as being the most effective at helping protect neurons by inducing production of BDNF.

The fact that these compounds readily cross the blood-brain barrier further increases their therapeutic potential, as this is often a major stumbling block in the development of therapies directed at the brain.

This provides hope for patients with HIV, as there is currently no neuroprotective therapy available for patients with HIV-associated cognitive impairment.

Catechins, which is present in green tea may help in the prevention of HIV-related brain disorders.

Source: The Hindu

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