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.

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.

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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.


  1. 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.