Different cancer chemopreventive agents may act synergistically and their combination may produce enhanced protective effects against carcinogenesis than each individual agent alone. Herein, we investigated the chemopreventive effects of nobiletin (NBT, a citrus polymethoxyflavone) and atorvastatin (ATST, a lipid-lowering drug) in colon cancer cells/macrophages and an azoxymethane (AOM)-induced colon carcinogenesis rat model. The results demonstrated that co-treatments of NBT/ATST produced enhanced growth inhibitory and anti-inflammatory effects on the colon cancer cells and macrophages, respectively. Isobologram analysis confirmed that these interactions between NBT and ATST were synergistic. NBT/ATST co-treatment also synergistically induced extensive cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in colon cancer cells. Oral administration of NBT (0.1%, w/w in diet) or ATST (0.04%, w/w in diet) significantly decreased colonic tumor incidence and multiplicity in AOM-treated rats. Most importantly, co-treatment of NBT/ATST at their half doses (0.05% NBT + 0.02% ATST, w/w in diet) resulted in even stronger inhibitory effects on colonic tumor incidence and multiplicity than did NBT or ATST alone at higher doses. Statistical analysis confirmed that the enhanced chemopreventive activities against colon carcinogenesis in rats by the NBT/ATST combination were highly synergistic. Our results further demonstrated that NBT/ATST co-treatment profoundly modulated key cellular signaling regulators associated with inflammation, cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and metastasis in the colon of AOM-treated rats. In conclusion, for the first time, our results demonstrated a strong synergy in inhibiting colon carcinogenesis produced by the co-treatment of NBT and ATST, which provided a scientific basis for using NBT in combination with ATST for colon cancer chemoprevention in humans.

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