Catechins Improve Anxiety: The CREB Pathway

Flavonoids are a group of phytochemicals with interesting nutritional properties. They have a number of health effects including the ability to regulate mood. Application of green tea to animals has been shown to improve the spatial learning and memory declines seen as they age. One suggestion of how this happens is through the ability of flavonoids to regulate a protein called CREB (cAMP element binding protein). Flavonoids may activate CREB in the hippocampus through a process called phosphorylation. Phosphorylation of CREB in turn causes many cellular changes and one of this is the upregulation of another protein called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). One of the roles of BDNF is to increase membrane plasticity in cells and one effect of this is a more efficient neurotransmitter system. As low levels of BDNF are associated with the development of anxiety and depression, this would suggest that green tea catechins are anxiolytics and antidepressants perhaps due to their activation of this protein. 

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Zhang, J., Cai, C. Y., Wu, H. Y., Zhu, L. J., Luo, C. X. and Zhu, D. Y. 2016. CREB-mediated synaptogenesis and neurogenesis is crucial for the role of 5-HT1a receptors in modulating anxiety behaviors. Scientific Reports. 6: 29551
Li, Q., Zhao, H. F., Zhang, Z. F., Liu, Z. G., Pei, X. R., Wang, J. B., Cai, M. Y.  and Li, Y. 2009. Long-term administration of green tea catechins prevents age-related spatial learning and memory decline in C57BL/6 J mice by regulating hippocampal cyclic amp-response element binding protein signaling cascade. Neuroscience. 159(4): 1208-1215

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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