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J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 2;53(22):8506-11.

Flavonoids from Theobroma cacao down-regulate inflammatory mediators.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


In the present study, we report the effects of a cocoa extract on the secretion and RNA expression of various proinflammatory mediators by macrophages. Monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) were significantly and dose-dependently diminished by cocoa extract, and this effect was higher than that produced by equivalent concentrations of epicatechin but was lower than that produced by isoquercitrin. Interestingly, cocoa extract added prior to cell activation resulted in a significantly greater inhibition of TNFalpha secretion. Both cocoa extract and epicatechin decreased TNFalpha, interleukin (IL) 1alpha, and IL-6 mRNA expression, suggesting that their inhibitory effect on cytokine secretion is produced, in part, at the transcriptional level. Cocoa extract also significantly decreased NO secretion in a dose-dependent manner and with a greater effect than that produced by epicatechin. In conclusion, our study shows that cocoa flavonoids not only inhibit NO release from macrophages but also down-regulate inflammatory cytokines and chemokines.

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