A molecule found in green tea may block the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study published in Arthritis and Rheumatology.

The molecule, a phytochemical called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), appears to effectively block the effects of rheumatoid arthritis without blocking other cellular functions.

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Researchers analyzed the effects of regulating transforming growth factor β-activated kinase 1 (TAK1), a protein that plays a key role in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. They used a pre-clinical animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis to see if EGCG could inhibit TAK1, thus reducing symptom severity.

After 10 days of treatment with EGCG, the researchers found a significant reduction in ankle swelling.

Although treatments  are available for rheumatoid arthritis, they can have significant drawbacks – they are expensive, immunosuppressive, and occasionally are not appropriate for long-term treatment.

“This study has opened the field of research into using EGCG for targeting TAK1 – an important signaling protein – through which pro-inflammatory cytokines transmit their signals to cause inflammation and tissue destruction in rheumatoid arthritis,” said Salah-uddin Ahmed, PhD, from Washington State University College of Pharmacy in Spokane.


Singh AK, Umar S, Riegsecker S, et al. Regulation of transforming growth factor β–activated kinase activation by epigallocatechin-3-gallate in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts: suppression of K63-linked autoubiquitination of tumor necrosis factor receptor–associated factor 6. Arthritis Rheum. 2016;68(2):347-358.

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor