Green Tea Could Improve Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Type 2 Patient Outcomes

A woman living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease type 2 (CMT2) has experienced symptom improvement following therapy with an anti-inflammatory compound found in green tea.

This study was recently published in Medicina.

CMT

CMT is a family of rare disorders which all affect the peripheral nervous system. This means all of the body’s nerves from the brain, through the spinal cord, and into the extremities can be affected.

CMT2 specifically leads to axon damage, which impedes the signal transmission from nerve cells.

As time goes on, patients can experience chronic inflammation, which would indicate that anti-inflammatory therapeutics may help support patient well being and improve their quality of life.

EGCG

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the main compound found within green tea.

Green tea has long been known to have anti-inflammatory affects. Additionally, studies have found it lowers oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance of free radical production and the clearing of them. Ultimately, it leads to tissue damage.

Researchers were optimistic that this chemical could support patients with CMT.

The Study

To examine the potential impact of EGCG in CMT, researchers in Spain examined the treatment in a pair of siblings. The sister (age 56) received 4 months of the therapy and the brother (age 51) received 4 months of placebo. Both individuals had a CMT2 diagnosis and both were diagnosed the very same year. Both experienced severe weight gain, a symptom of CMT. Their condition was due to a mutation in the MME gene. This gene codes for a membrane protein which helps recycle certain hormones.

Their 3 other siblings did not have the condition and between the brother and the sister, disease severity was similar.

The sister’s condition prior to treatment included:

  • BMI of 37 kg/cm2
  • 28.6% body fat
  • 36.78% muscle mass
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased sensitivity
  • Decreased motor responses
  • Muscle twitches
  • Irregular resting heart rate
  • Foot deformities

The brother’s condition included:

  • BMI of 41.6 kg/cm2
  • Body fat of 27.6%
  • Muscle mass of 34.25%
  • Decreased sensitivity
  • Decreased motor responses
  • Muscle twitches
  • Irregular resting heart rate
  • Muscle weakness
  • Foot deformities

The Results 

The sister was given the treatment by random assignment. She was given 400mg capsules of EGCG at breakfast and dinner each day. She also followed the Mediterranean diet. Her brother followed this same diet but was taking the placebo pills instead of the treatment.

The sister experienced improvements in many areas such as-

  • Reduced levels of an inflammation marker called interleukin-6
  • Increase in PON1 which indicates lowered oxidative stress as well as inflammation
  • Coordination
  • Walking (test increased by 164 feet)
  • Strength

She also lost 3.56 inches from her waist and 2.55 kg/cm2 from her BMI. Her brother had similar improvements in these areas. Her body fat decreased by 3.82%. Unfortunately, her brother’s increased by 1.99%. Similarly, she increased her muscle mass by 2.8%  and the brother lost 2.79% of muscle mass. In other words, while they both lost weight, the sister lost fat and gained muscle whereas the brother primarily lost muscle.

Looking Forward

Although much more research is needed because this was a very small case study, researchers are hopeful about the promise of this therapy.

Anything which could improve patients functional capacity is advantageous.

You can read more about this study here.

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