Wild Foeniculum vulgare subsp. piperitum (C.Presl) Bég. flowers, fruits and leaves were extracted with steam distillation and obtained essential oils (EOs) were characterized using GC/MS. The study was designed to verify the potential effectiveness of fennel EOs in the treatment of inflammation and arthritis. Since tissue proteins denaturation is a major cause of arthritic diseases, fennel EOs and their main constituents were evaluated for their ability to inhibit the heat-induced proteins degradation using bovine serum albumin as a protein model. Moreover, the in vitro inhibitory effects of the three EOs on the pro-inflammatory mediator nitric oxide (NO) production were verified in LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 cells. Estragole (28.81–33.40 %), anethole (24.16–27.40 %), fenchone (9.76–18.48 %), α-phellandrene (1.63–8.37 %) and limonene (5.54–6.05 %) were the major constituents. All the EOs showed a concentration-dependent biological activity, being the flower EO the most effective in inhibiting NO production (IC50=232.2±11.3 μg/mL). The leaf EO showed a very good bovine serum albumin (BSA) anti-denaturation activity (IC50=95.9±2.4 μg/mL). Moreover, four components were proved to be effective in protecting protein from heat-induced degradation, being α-phellandrene the most active compound (IC50=73.2±1.9 μg/mL).
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