September 16, 2009

Tea component may extend blood shelf life

A component in green tea may act as a preservative for stored blood, Japanese researchers said.

The study, published in Cell Transplantation, found green tea contains a strong anti-oxidant -- epigallocatechin, better known as EGCG -- that may help prolong platlet shelf life.

Currently, the storage duration for platelet cells is limited to five days internationally or three days in Japan. When EGCG was added to blood platelet concentrates, aggregation and coagulation functions were better-maintained after six days.

While the exact mechanism by which EGCG works is not yet known, the researchers believe it may be be related to its surface binding ability properties that may protect the surface proteins and lipids from oxidation. In any event, delay programmed cell death --apoptosis -- was inhibited.

EGCG may lead to an inhibition of platelet apoptosis and lower rates of cell death, offering a potentially novel and useful method to prolong platelet storage periods, study lead author Dr. Suong-Hyn Hyon of the Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences in Kyoto, Japan, said in a statement.