Thymoquinone: a promising anti-cancer drug from natural sources

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2006;38(8):1249-53. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2005.10.009. Epub 2005 Nov 8.

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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Benzoquinones / chemistry
  • Benzoquinones / pharmacology*
  • Benzoquinones / therapeutic use
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism

Substances

  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzoquinones
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • thymoquinone