It has been known that green tea and its components possess significant chemopreventive effects against chemical carcinogens and photo-caused skin tumor formation. In this study, the protective effects of (–)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a major green tea catechin, on the ultraviolet (UV)-induced skin damage (photoaging) were studied in guinea pigs, hairless mice and human dermal fibroblast cultures. The lipid peroxidation was significantly reduced in the EGCG-treated group. The amount of lipid peroxides produced in the control and EGCG treated group were 838 ± 144 and 286 ± 57 nmol/mg at 18 h after UV irradiation, respectively. UVB-induced erythema was also significantly reduced in the EGCG treated group. The erythema relative index of the control and the EGCG treated group were 311 ± 45 and 191 ± 49 at 16 h after UV irradiation, respectively. EGCG treatment reduced UVA-induced skin damage (roughness and sagginess) and protected from the decrease of dermal collagen in hairless mouse skin. EGCG treatment blocked the UV-induced increase of collagen secretion and collagenase mRNA level in fibroblast culture. The nuclear transcription factors NF-ĸB and AP-1 binding activities were also inhibited by EGCG treatment.

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