OBJECTIVE: This study examined the capacity of the major polyphenolic green tea extract (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) to suppress oxidative stress and stimulate the recovery and prompt the regeneration of sciatic nerve after crush injury. METHODS: Adult male Wistar rats were randomly assigned to one of 4 groups: 1) Naïve, 2) Sham (sham injury, surgical control group), 3) Crush (sciatic nerve crush injury treated with saline), and 4) Crush+EGCG (sciatic nerve crush injury treated with intraperitoneally administered EGCG, 50 mg/kg). All animals were tested for motor and sensory neurobehavioral parameters throughout the study. Sciatic nerve and spinal cord tissues were harvested and processed for morphometric and stereological analysis. For the biochemical assays, the time points were Day 1, Day 7, Day 14, and Day 28 after nerve injury. RESULTS: After sciatic nerve crush injury, the EGCG-treated animals (Crush+EGCG group) showed significantly better recovery of foot position and toe spread and 50% greater improvement in motor recovery than the saline-treated animals (Crush group). The Crush+EGCG group displayed an early hopping response at the beginning of the 3rd week postinjury. Animals in the Crush+EGCG group also showed a significant reduction in mechanical allodynia and hyperalgesia latencies and significant improvement in recovery from nociception deficits in both heat withdrawal and tail flick withdrawal latencies compared with the Crush group. In both the Crush+EGCG and Crush groups, quantitative evaluation revealed significant morphological evidence of neuroregeneration according to the following parameters: mean crosssectional area of axons, myelin thickness in the sciatic nerve (from Week 4 to Week 8), increase of myelin basic protein concentration and gene expression in both the injured sciatic nerve and spinal cord, and fiber diameter to axon diameter ratio and myelin thickness to axon diameter ratio at Week 2 after sciatic nerve injury. However, the axon area remained much smaller in both the Crush+EGCG and Crush groups compared with the Sham and Naïve groups. The number of axons per unit area was significantly decreased in the Crush+EGCG and Crush groups compared with controls. Sciatic nerve injury produced generalized oxidative stress manifested as a significant increase of isoprostanes in the urine and decrease of the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of the blood from Day 7 until Day 14. EGCG-treated rats showed significantly less increase of isoprostanes than saline-treated animals and also showed full recovery of TAC levels by Day 14 after nerve injury. In spinal cord tissue analysis, EGCG-treated animals showed induced glutathione reductase and suppressed induction of heme oxygenase 1 gene expression compared with nontreated animals. CONCLUSIONS: EGCG treatment suppressed the crush-induced production of isoprostanes and stimulated the recovery of the TAC and was associated with remarkable alleviation of motor and sensory impairment and significant histomorphological evidence of neuronal regeneration following sciatic nerve crush injury in rats. The findings of this study suggest that EGCG can be used as an adjunctive therapeutic remedy for nerve injury. However, further investigations are needed to establish the antioxidative mechanism involved in the regenerative process after nerve injury. Only upregulation of glutathione reductase supports the idea that EGCG is acting indirectly via induction of enzymes or transcription factors.
- Oxidative Stress
- Stereological analysis