Improvement of endothelial function represents a major health effect of tea in humans. Ex vivo, tea and tea polyphenols stimulate nitric oxide (NO)-dependent vasodilation in isolated blood vessels. However, it was reported that polyphenols can generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) in vitro. We therefore aimed to elucidate the role of ROS production in tea polyphenol-induced vasodilation in explanted aortic rings. Vasorelaxation of rat aortic rings was assessed in an organ chamber model with low concentrations of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), theaflavin-3,3’-digallate (TF3), and with green and black tea, with or without pretreatment with catalase or superoxide dismutase (SOD). The stability of EGCG and TF3 was measured by HPLC, and the levels of hydrogen peroxide (H2
) were determined. EGCG and green tea-induced vasorelaxation was completely prevented by catalase and slightly increased by SOD. TF3 and black tea yielded similar results. Both EGCG and TF3 were rapidly degraded. This was associated with increasing H2
levels over time. Hydrogen peroxide concentrations produced in a time range compatible with tea polyphenol decay induced NO-dependent vasodilation in aortic rings. In conclusion, tea polyphenol-induced vasodilation in vitro is mediated by low levels of H2
generated during compound decay. The results could explain the apparent lack of vasodilatory effects of isolated tea polyphenols in humans.
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