Besides well-known health benefits, green tea catechins exert antimicrobial and antiviral activities against a variety of infectious agents. Although the detailed mechanism of the antimicrobial activity of tea catechins remains to be explored, the broad-spectrum activity of catechins may involve common target(s), such as the cell membrane, in addition to specific targets for each pathogen. This extends to antiviral activities, where many pronounced activities were reported for enveloped viruses. Yet, the effectiveness of tea catechins as antimicrobials is compromised by relative chemical instability and poor bioavailability. Whether tea catechins will emerge as a viable option as alternative medicine or as a synergistic combination therapy with pre-existing antivirals or antibiotics must therefore depend on a method of delivery that ensures its stability and bioavailability. However, green tea may provide an option for mitigating the health and economic burdens associated with emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, especially considering the paucity of effective control measures. Considering the zoonotic nature of newly arising infectious diseases, the dual use of green tea components in both humans and livestock may reduce animal-human transmission, which would complement the current management of infectious diseases.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by Korean Science and Engineering Foundation grant funded by the Korean Government (Ministry of Science and Technology; 2006-00978) and by the Korea Research Foundation Grant funded by the Korean Government (MOEHRD; KRF-005-2006-J04501).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases