Tea, produced from the evergreen Camellia sinensis, has reported therapeutic properties against multiple pathologies, including hypertension. Although some studies validate the health benefits of tea, few have investigated the molecular mechanisms of action. The KCNQ5 voltage-gated potassium channel contributes to vascular smooth muscle tone and neuronal M-current regulation.
Methods: We applied electrophysiology, myography, mass spectrometry and in silico docking to determine effects and their underlying molecular mechanisms of tea and its components on KCNQ channels and arterial tone.
Results: A 1% green tea extract (GTE) hyperpolarized cells by augmenting KCNQ5 activity >20-fold at resting potential; similar effects of black tea were inhibited by milk. In contrast, GTE had lesser effects on KCNQ2/Q3 and inhibited KCNQ1/E1. Tea polyphenols epicatechin gallate (ECG) and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), but not epicatechin or epigallocatechin, isoform-selectively hyperpolarized KCNQ5 activation voltage dependence. In silico docking and mutagenesis revealed that activation by ECG requires KCNQ5-R212, at the voltage sensor foot. Strikingly, ECG and EGCG but not epicatechin KCNQ-dependently relaxed rat mesenteric arteries.
Conclusion: KCNQ5 activation contributes to vasodilation by tea; ECG and EGCG are candidates for future anti-hypertensive drug development.