Thymoquinone: a promising anti-cancer drug from natural sources

​​​Gali-Muhtasib H, Roessner A, Schneider-Stock R. "Thymoquinone: a promising anti-cancer drug from natural sources." International Journal of Biochemistry and cellular Biology 2006;38(8): 1249-53.

Abstract

There has been growing interest in naturally occurring compounds with anti-cancer potential. Black seed is one of the most extensively studied plants. This annual herb grows in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and India. Thymoquinone (TQ) is the bioactive constituent of the volatile oil of black seed. It has been shown to exert anti-neoplastic and anti-inflammatory effects. The molecular pathways of TQ action are not clear. Nevertheless, TQ is known to induce apoptosis by p53-dependent and p53-independent pathways in cancer cell lines. Growth inhibition is associated with induction of cell cycle arrest. TQ also acts on the immune system by modulating the levels of inflammatory mediators. To date, the chemotherapeutic potential of TQ in the clinic has not been tested, but numerous studies have shown its promising anti-cancer effects in animal models. The combination of TQ with clinically used anti-cancer drugs has led to improvements in their therapeutic index and prevents non-tumor tissues from sustaining chemotherapy-induced damage.