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Physicochemical and Colon Cancer Cell Inhibitory Properties of Theabrownins Prepared by Weak Alkali Oxidation of Tea Polyphenols


Existing studies on the biological activity of theabrownins are not based on their free state but on the complexes of theabrownins, polysaccharides, proteins, and flavonoids. In this study, theabrownins (TBs-C) were prepared by weak alkali oxidation of tea polyphenols. The ultraviolet-visible scanning spectrum of TBs-C showed two characteristic absorption peaks at 203 and 270 nm. The zeta potential of the TBs-C aqueous solution was negative, and the values varied from − 6.26 to -19.55 mV with a solution pH of 3–9. Storage conditions of pH 5.0–7.0 and around 25 °C were beneficial for the physical and chemical stability of the TBS-C solution. Cells were treated with series concentrations and examined by MTT, HE staining, PI immunofluorescence staining, flow cytometry, and real-time PCR to investigate the antiproliferative effect of TBs-C on human colon cancer HT-29 cells. The results showed that TBs-C, particularly at 500 µg/mL, inhibited cell growth. TBs-C induced HT-29 cell apoptosis, as confirmed by morphological changes, nucleus propidium iodide staining, and distributions of the cell cycle. The apoptotic mechanism may be due to the intracellular redox imbalance induced by TBs-C.

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Data Availability

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 31871813).

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Correspondence to Xiaoqiang Chen.

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Yao Yuan and Yuying Bai equal contribution.

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Yuan, Y., Bai, Y., Zhang, Y. et al. Physicochemical and Colon Cancer Cell Inhibitory Properties of Theabrownins Prepared by Weak Alkali Oxidation of Tea Polyphenols. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 77, 405–411 (2022).

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  • Theabrownins
  • colon cancer cell
  • Chemical oxidation
  • Inhibition