Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) plays a pivotal role in the physiological ovarian angiogenic process: its production appears to be stimulated by the hypoxic environment which takes place during follicle development. Recently, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) from green tea has been used in livestock nutrition as an alternative to antibiotics. However, despite many potential benefits of EGCG consumption, it is also important to get an insight on the possible reproductive-related consequences of feeding supplementation: in fact this substance has been found to inhibit angiogenesis, a process fundamental for follicle development. Therefore, we evaluated the effect of EGCG (5 and 50 microg/ml) on the production of the main angiogenetic factor, VEGF, by swine granulosa cells cultured in normoxia (19% O2), partial (5% O2) or total hypoxia (1% O2). In addition, we studied the effect of the catechin on cell proliferation. Our data demonstrate that both partial and total hypoxia stimulated VEGF production. EGCG reduced VEGF production independently of the O2 condition: 50 microM was the most effective doses. Granulosa cell proliferation was inhibited by EGCG even if only by the highest concentration. This effect might possibly be due to the decrease induced in VEGF production. Therefore feeding supplementation with EGCG should be carefully considered.
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