Studies say a major component in green tea, called epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG), could help prolong the preservation of both stored blood platelets and cryopreserved skin tissues.
The two separate studies were conducted in Japan.
The studies have shown that EGCG, which is known to have strong anti-oxidative activity, can prolong platelet cell "shelf life" via anti-apoptosis (programmed cell death) properties and preserve skin tissues by controlling cell division.
Dr. Suong-Hyn Hyon, who led the studies, said that EGCG, a green tea polyphenol, is a known anti-oxidation and anti-proliferation agent, but some of its activity could also be related to its surface binding ability.
Using standard blood banking procedures, the storage duration for platelet cells (PCs) is limited to five days internationally or three days in Japan, as PCs tend to lose membrane integrity and haemostatic functions like aggregability and affinity for surface receptors.
When EGCG was added to blood platelet concentrates, aggregation and coagulation functions were better maintained after six days, perhaps due to EGCG's anti-oxidative ability.
The researchers suggested that EGCG inhibited the activation of platelet functions and protected the surface proteins and lipids from oxidation.
"Functions were restored by the maintained surface molecules with the detachment of ECGC by washing. 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 period," noted Hyon.
Another team of Japanese researchers studied the effects of using EGCG on frozen, stored skin tissues.
Just like platelet storage, the storage of skin tissue for grafting presents problems of availability and limitations on the duration of storage.
"To provide best outcomes, skin grafts must be processed and stored in a manner that maintains their viability and structural integrity until they are needed for transplantation. Transplant dysfunction often occurs as the result of oxidation. A better storage solution could prevent this," explained Hyon.
It is known that polyphenols in green tea promote the preservation of tissues, such as blood vessels, cornea, islet cells, articular cartilage and myocardium at room temperature.
Besides, ECGC also has stronger anti-oxidant activities than vitamin C because of its sterochemical structure and is reported to play an important role in preventing cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
The study examined how EGCG might help extend the preservation duration of frozen rat skin tissues and found that skin grafts could be protected from freeze-thaw injuries when EGCG was absorbed into various membrane lipids and proteins.
Results of the study showed that EGCG enhanced the viability and stored duration of skin grafts up to seven weeks at 4 degrees C.
The study has been published in the current double issue of Cell Transplantation.