A previously published systematic review and a metaanalysis have concluded that the consumption of standardized rose hip powder (Rosa canina L.) can reduce pain in osteoarthritis patients. Synovial inflammation has been suggested to play an important role in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis and mainly to involve infiltration of the synovial membrane by macrophages. Therefore, the immunomodulatory effect of standardized rose hip powder of Rosa canina L. was investigated and active principles isolated using the Mono Mac 6 cell line as a model for human macrophages. Treatment of Mono Mac 6 cells with the residue of a crude dichloromethane extract of rose hip powder significantly and concentration dependently inhibited the lipopolysaccharide induced interleukin-6 release. Through bioassay-guided fractionation the immunomodulatory effect of the dichloromethane extract was correlated to a mixture of three triterpene acids; oleanolic acid, betulinic acid and ursolic acid (IC(50) 21 +/- 6 microm). Further studies revealed that only oleanolic acid and ursolic acid, but not betulinic acid, could inhibit the lipopolysaccharide induced interleukin-6 release from Mono Mac 6 cells when tested separately. Combination of either oleanolic acid or ursolic acid with betulinic acid enhanced the immunomodulatory effect of the two triterpene acids. Copyright (c) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.