Black tea protects immunocytes from tumor-induced apoptosis by changing Bcl-2/Bax ratio

Arindam Bhattacharyya, Debaprasad Mandal, Lakshmishri Lahiry, Gaurisankar Sa, Tanya Das
Cancer Letters 2004 June 25, 209 (2): 147-54
It is known that cancer is associated with altered immune function. We demonstrated earlier that black tea inhibits tumor growth in a dose-dependent manner. Here, we report that apoptosis was the cause of immunocyte death in Ehrlich's ascites carcinoma (EAC)-bearing mice and anti-tumor dose of black tea restored EAC-induced immunosuppression by inhibiting apoptosis. A search for the molecular mechanism revealed that EAC burden increased the expression of the pro-apoptotic proteins p53 and Bax in splenic lymphocytes although did not change the level of pro-proliferative protein Bcl-2. Interestingly, anti-tumor dose of black tea down-regulated p53, decreased Bax while augmenting Bcl-2 in these cells. As a result, Bcl-2/Bax ratio was increased and the immunocytes were protected from tumor-induced apoptosis. Thus, unlike many other anti-cancer agents, black tea is not only devoid of immunosuppressive effect but also acts as immuno-restorer in tumor-bearing host. These results, thus, raise the possibility of inclusion of black tea in successful therapeutic regimen against cancer.

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