Regulatory T-cell modulation by green tea in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

G. D'Arena, V. Simeon, L. De Martino, T. Statuto, F. D'Auria, S. Volpe, S. Deaglio, A. Maidecchi, L. Mattoli, V. Mercati, P. Musto, Vincenzo De Feo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are considered to be key immunomodulatory cells of the immune system and are increased in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Rai stage 0 identifies patients with early stage CLL for which there is no effective intervention at the present time and a "wait and see" policy is usually adopted. Some biological and clinical studies have reported that green tea constituents, such as epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG), have antitumor effects on hematologic malignancies including CLL. We report data on a clinical trial in which green tea extracts were given orally to 12 patients with stage 0 CLL and 12 healthy subjects. Ten patients and 10 controls completed the 6-month scheduled therapy. Two patients and 2 controls stopped therapy within 1 month because of tachycardia and epigastralgia. Eight out 10 evaluable patients (80%) showed a reduction of lymphocytosis and absolute number of circulating Tregs, as well. One patient (10%) had a stabilization of lymphocytosis and a reduction of Tregs, and 1 patient (10%) showed an increase of both lymphocytosis and Tregs. Only the non-responding patient progressed after 5 months from the end of green tea administration and chemotherapy was given. Interestingly, both IL-10 and TGF-β serum levels declined throughout the green tea intake period, in both patients and controls. These data seem to indicate that green tea is able to modulate circulating Tregs in CLL patients with early stage of the disease. This can result in the control of lymphocytosis as well as in the prevention of disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-125
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Green tea
  • Immune system
  • Rai stage 0
  • Tregs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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