Hepatitis C virus infection can result in cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, and primary liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatitis C virus is a common reason for chronic liver disease as well as a primary indicator for liver transplantation, impacting up to 170 million people around the world based on WHO estimates. Earlier research reports that almost 2% of the world’s population have chronic hepatitis C virus and as much as 20% of the population is infected in certain countries.
Though standard treatment with ribavirin and interferon, as well as newer protease inhibitors might clear infection in certain people, a considerable amount of individuals still don’t respond to these treatments. For people receiving liver transplants as a result of hepatitis C virus complications, re-infection of the healthy donor liver is still a major problem. Antiviral strategies are urgently needed which target hepatitis C virus in its initial phases for preventing graft re-infection and improving long term outcomes for sufferers.
A study researched the effect of the main component of green tea, the EGCG molecule, in the prevention of the hepatitis C virus from attaching to the liver cells. Catechins like EGCG and its derivatives EC (epicatechin), ECG (epicatechingallate), and EGC (epigallocatechin) have been shown to have anti-oncogenic and antiviral properties. The potential these flavonoids have in the prevention of hepatitis C virus re-infection after liver transplantation was also explored in the study.
Unlike its derivatives, the study results demonstrated that EGCG inhibits entry of hepatitis C virus into liver cells. The researchers suggest that the hepatitis C virus cell entry was impeded by EGCG acting on the host cell since the green tea catechin wasn’t found to alter the virus particles density. Pre-treatment of cells with EGCG before hepatitis C virus inoculation didn’t reduce the infection; however the rapid spread of the hepatitis C virus was inhibited by application during inoculation. Finally, the study revealed that EGCG inhibits viral attachment, step one in the hepatitis C virus infection process. EGCG inhibits hepatitis C virus cell entry by preventing viral attachment and could present a new approach for preventing hepatitis C virus infection, in particular re-infection after liver transplantation.