Theaflavins are polyphenols found in black tea; their physiological activities were not well investigated. The present study in rats evaluated the influence of theaflavins on circulation. In addition, an intervention pilot study examined the influence of a theaflavin drink on postprandial hemodynamic change. In an animal study, a single oral dose of theaflavin rich fraction (TF, 10 mg/kg) caused transient increase in mean blood pressure (MBP) and heart rate (HR). TF also elevated cremastric blood flow significantly, and the magnitude of this effect was in this order: theaflavin 3'-O-gallate (TF2B) > > theaflavin-3-O-gallate (TF2A) > > theaflavin (TF1) = theaflavin-3, 3'-di-O-gallate (TF3). In addition, these hemodynamic alterations in mammals totally disappeared when pretreated with carvedilol as an adrenaline blocker. We also treated 10-mg/kg/day TF to the rats for 2 weeks. At the end of the ingestion period, MBP was reduced significantly, and aortic eNOS level was elevated by the repeated ingestion of TF compared with distilled water. In the intervention trial, blood pressure of the volunteers was increased significantly 2 and 4 h after ingestion of the TF drink (45 mg/drink) compared with before treatment. A significant difference was observed in FMD between the placebo and theaflavin groups 4 h after ingestion. These results suggested that theaflavin has potent activity to alter hemodynamics in both murine and healthy subjects. Further studies is needed to elucidate the details; however, the results of animal study suggested that the possible involvement of sympathetic nervous system in the hemodynamic changes caused by TF.
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