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Green tea and thermogenesis: interactions between catechin-polyphenols, caffeine and sympathetic activity


The thermogenic effect of tea is generally attributed to its caffeine content. We report here that a green tea extract stimulates brown adipose tissue thermogenesis to an extent which is much greater than can be attributed to its caffeine content per se, and that its thermogenic properties could reside primarily in an interaction between its high content in catechin-polyphenols and caffeine with sympathetically released noradrenaline (NA). Since catechin-polyphenols are known to be capable of inhibiting catechol-O-methyl-transferase (the enzyme that degrades NA), and caffeine to inhibit trancellular phosphodiesterases (enzymes that break down NA-induced cAMP), it is proposed that the green tea extract, via its catechin-polyphenols and caffeine, is effective in stimulating thermogenesis by relieving inhibition at different control points along the NA–cAMP axis. Such a synergistic interaction between catechin-polyphenols and caffeine to augment and prolong sympathetic stimulation of thermogenesis could be of value in assisting the management of obesity.

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We thank D Rohrer for excellent technical support, and R Schumacher for the illustrations. This work was supported in part by Arkopharama laboratories (Nice, France) and in part by grant no. 31-47211.96 of the Swiss National Science Research Fund

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Correspondence to AG Dulloo.

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Dulloo, A., Seydoux, J., Girardier, L. et al. Green tea and thermogenesis: interactions between catechin-polyphenols, caffeine and sympathetic activity. Int J Obes 24, 252–258 (2000).

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  • obesity
  • catecholamines
  • thermogenesis
  • brown adipose tissue
  • caffeine

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