New study from the University of California at Irvine reveals that compounds in both green and black tea appear to relax blood vessels, activating ion channel proteins in the wall of blood vessels.
Flavonoids and antihypertensives in tea
New findings help explain the antihypertensive properties of tea and may lead to the design of new drugs to lower blood pressure.
Published in Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry, the discovery was made by the laboratory of dr. Geoffrey Abbott, Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics of Medicine at the University of California.
Research reveals two flavonoid catechin-like compounds found in tea, each activating a specific type of ion channel protein called KCNQ5, allowing potassium ions to diffuse from cells to reduce cellular excitability.
As KCNQ5 is found in the smooth muscle that aligns blood vessels, its activation by tea catechins also predicted the relaxation of blood vessels, prediction which was also confirmed by researchers at the University of Copenhagen.
What we know about KCNQ5 and hypertension
Previous studies have suggested that consuming green or black tea can lower blood pressure by a small but steady amount, and catechins have been found in the past to contribute to this property..
Identification of KCNQ5 as a new target for the hypertensive properties of catechin tea may facilitate the optimization of medicinal chemistry for improved potency or efficacy.
In addition to its role in controlling vascular tone, KCNQ5 can be found in various parts of the brain, where it regulates electrical activity and signaling between neurons.
There are pathogenic variants of the KCNQ5 gene that affect channel function and thus cause epileptic encephalopathy, a developmental disorder that causes severe cognitive impairment and causes frequent seizures.
The secret to gaining all the benefits
The team also found that heating green tea in 35 degrees Celsius alters its chemical composition in a way that makes it more efficient at activating KCNQ5.
"Regardless of whether the tea is consumed iced or hot, this temperature is reached after consuming the tea, as the temperature of the human body is about 37 degrees Celsius ", the researchers explain.
"So, just drinking tea we activate the beneficial, its antihypertensive properties "they conclude.
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