We here investigated the anti-inflammatory activity of a polymethoxylated flavone-containing fraction (PMFF) from Citrus sinensis and of a prenylflavonoid-containing one (PFF) from Humulus lupulus, either alone or in combination (MIX). To this end, an in vitro model of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), consisting of differentiated, interleukin (IL)-1β-stimulated Caco-2 cells, was employed. We demonstrated that non-cytotoxic concentrations of either PMFF or PFF or MIX reduced nitric oxide (NO) production while PFF and MIX, but not PMFF, also inhibited prostaglandin E2 release. Coherently, MIX suppressed both inducible NO synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 over-expression besides NF-κB activation. Moreover, MIX increased nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) activation, heme oxygenase-1 expression, restoring GSH and reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONs) levels. Remarkably, these effects with MIX were stronger than those produced by PMFF or PFF alone. Noteworthy, nobiletin (NOB) and xanthohumol (XTM), two of the most represented phytochemicals in PMFF and PFF, respectively, synergistically inhibited RONs production. Overall, our results demonstrate that MIX enhances the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects of the individual fractions in a model of IBD, via a mechanism involving modulation of NF-κB and Nrf2 signalling. Synergistic interactions between NOB and XTM emerge as a relevant aspect underlying this evidence.
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