Can Green Tea Improve the Down Syndrome Symptoms?


Interesting revelation from Phase II clinical trial suggests that Green tea can improve the intellectual capacities of the Down syndrome patients.

Centre for Genomic RegulationScientists from Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) made an interesting revelation about the link between one of the compounds present in the healthy morning refreshment- Green tea and improvement in the intellectual capacities of a person with Down syndrome.


Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a catechin compound which is present in excess in tea. DYRK1A (Dual-Specificity Tyrosine-(Y)-Phosphorylation Regulated Kinase 1A) is an enzyme encoded by DYRK1A gene in humans which are considered as a gene responsible for the learning defects associated with Down syndrome and also affects the brain’s ability to change in a normal way (neuroplasticity).  In the clinical trials, EGCG has been shown to improve the cognitive functions of the patients with Down syndrome.

The Phase II study was led by Rafael de la Torre and team on 84 patients of age group 16-34 years at the IMIM-Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute. The patients were given EGCG (9 mg/kg per day) or placebo along with the cognitive training for 12 months and later followed up for 6 months after treatment was discontinued.

Patients treated with EGCG significantly scored higher in visual recognition memory, inhibitory control and adaptive behaviour. EGCG is known for the inhibition of excess DYRK1A gene in mice in earlier studies and now it was also shown effective in humans with Down syndrome. The study was published in The Lancet Neurology.


Figure 1. Explanation of Chromosome 21 in Down Syndrome (Photo credit: What Is Down syndrome? The 21st Chromosome Simply Explained).

WHO has reported that 1 out of 1000 persons is affected with Down syndrome globally. Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused due to the presence of three copies of chromosome 21 which leads to the overexpression of the genes present on this chromosome. DYRK1A is one of the genes present in chromosome 21.

The researchers of IMIM and CRG demonstrated that the compound EGCG functions in inhibiting the excess function of DYRK1A which leads to the improvement of the cognitive functions of the brain when given along with the cognitive training. To reinforce the effect of EGCG and cognitive training on the cognitive functions of the patients with Down syndrome, Phase III trial will be performed on a larger group of Down syndrome patients.

Featured image credit: Cute little girl with painted hands. © DenysKuvaiev (Stock Photo ID: 83811539)

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