Effect of thymoquinone on cyclooxygenase expression and prostaglandin production in a mouse model of allergic airway inflammation

Immunol Lett. 2006 Jul 15;106(1):72-81. doi: 10.1016/j.imlet.2006.04.012. Epub 2006 May 22.


Prostaglandins (PGs) are potent proinflammatory mediators generated through arachidonic acid metabolism by cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 (COX-1 and COX-2) in response to different stimuli and play an important role in modulating the inflammatory responses in a number of conditions, including allergic airway inflammation. Thymoquinone (TQ) is the main active constituent of the volatile oil extract of Nigella sativa seeds and has been reported to have anti-inflammatory properties. We examined the effect of TQ on the in vivo production of PGs and lung inflammation in a mouse model of allergic airway inflammation. Mice sensitized and challenged through the airways with ovalbumin (OVA) exhibited a significant increase in PGD2 and PGE2 production in the airways. The inflammatory response was characterized by an increase in the inflammatory cell numbers and Th2 cytokine levels in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, lung airway eosinophilia and goblet cell hyperplasia, as well as the induction of COX-2 protein expression in the lung. Intraperitoneal injection of TQ for 5 days before the first OVA challenge attenuated airway inflammation as demonstrated by the significant decrease in Th2 cytokines, lung eosinophilia, and goblet cell hyperplasia. This attenuation of airway inflammation was concomitant to the inhibition of COX-2 protein expression and PGD2 production. However, TQ had a slight inhibitory effect on COX-1 expression and PGE2 production. These findings suggest that TQ has an anti-inflammatory effect during the allergic response in the lung through the inhibition of PGD2 synthesis and Th2-driven immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzoquinones / therapeutic use*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / drug therapy*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / immunology
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / metabolism*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / pathology
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / metabolism*
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism*
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Dinoprostone / biosynthesis
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin / pharmacology
  • Prostaglandin D2 / biosynthesis*
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism


  • Allergens
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Benzoquinones
  • Cytokines
  • Ovalbumin
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Dinoprostone
  • thymoquinone
  • Prostaglandin D2