Chen, CH., Ho, ML., Chang, JK. et al. Osteoporos Int (2005) 16: 2039. doi:10.1007/s00198-005-1995-0
Green tea has been reported to possess antioxidant, antitumorigenic, and antibacterial qualities that regulate the endocrine system. Previous epidemiological studies found that the bone mineral density (BMD) of postmenopausal women with a habit of tea drinking was higher than that of women without habitual tea consumption. However, the effects of green tea catechins on osteogenic function have rarely been investigated. In this study, we tested (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), one of the green tea catechins, on cell proliferation, the mRNA expressions of relevant osteogenic markers, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and mineralization. In a murine bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell line, D1, the mRNA expressions of core binding factors a1 (Cbfa1/Runx2), osterix, osteocalcin, ALP increased after 48 h of EGCG treatment. ALP activity was also significantly augmented upon EGCG treatment for 4 days, 7 days and 14 days. Furthermore, mineralizations assayed by Alizarin Red S and von Kossa stain were enhanced after EGCG treatment for 2–4 weeks in D1 cell cultures. However, a 24-h treatment of EGCG inhibited thymidine incorporation of D1 cells. These results demonstrated that long-term treatment of EGCG increases the expressions of osteogenic genes, elevates ALP activity and eventually stimulates mineralization, in spite of its inhibitory effect on proliferation. This finding suggests that the stimulatory effects of EGCG on osteogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells may be one of the mechanisms that allow tea drinkers to possess higher BMD.