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Green Tea Phenol Extracts Reduce UVB-induced DNA Damage in Human Cells via Interleukin-12


  • This paper is part of a special issue dedicated to Professor Hasan Mukhtar on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

*Corresponding author email: (Mary S. Matsui)


Green tea chemoprevention has been a focus of recent research, as a polyphenolic fraction from green tea (GTP) has been suggested to prevent UV radiation-induced skin cancer. Recently, it was demonstrated that GTP reduced the risk for skin cancer in a murine photocarcinogenesis model. This was accompanied by a reduction in UV-induced DNA damage. These effects appeared to be mediated via interleukin (IL)-12, which was previously shown to induce DNA repair. Therefore, we studied whether GTP induction of IL-12 and DNA repair could also be observed in human cells. KB cells and normal human keratinocytes were exposed to GTP 5 h before and after UVB. UVB-induced apoptosis was reduced in UVB-exposed cells treated with GTP. GTP induced the secretion of IL-12 in keratinocytes. The reduction in UV-induced cell death by GTP was almost completely reversed upon addition of an anti-IL-12-antibody, indicating that the reduction of UV-induced cell death by GTP is mediated via IL-12. The ability of IL-12 to reduce DNA damage and sunburn cells was confirmed in “human living skin equivalent” models. Hence the previously reported UV-protective effects of GTP appear to be mediated in human cells via IL-12, most likely through induction of DNA repair.