Black seed oil ameliorates allergic airway inflammation by inhibiting T-cell proliferation in rats

Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Feb;22(1):37-43. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2008.11.006. Epub 2008 Nov 27.


The black seeds, from the Ranunculaceae family, have been traditionally used by various cultures as a natural remedy for several ailments. In this study, we examined the effect of black seed oil as an immunomodulator in a rat model of allergic airway inflammation. Rats sensitized to ovalbumin and challenged intranasally with ovalbumin to induce an allergic inflammatory response were compared to ovalbumin-sensitized, intranasally ovalbumin-exposed rats pretreated with intraperitoneally administered black seed oil and to control rats. The levels of IgE, IgG1 and ova-specific T-cell proliferation in spleen were measured by ELISA. The pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-4, IL-5, IL-6 and TGF-beta1 mRNA expression levels were measured by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. The intraperitoneal administration of black seed oil inhibited the Th2 type immune response in rats by preventing inflammatory cell infiltration and pathological lesions in the lungs. It significantly decreased the nitric oxide production in BALF, total serum IgE, IgG1 and OVA-specific IgG1 along with IL-4, IL-5, IL-6 and TGF-beta1 mRNA expression. Black seed oil treatment resulted in decreased T-cell response evident by lesser delayed type hypersensitivity and lower T-cell proliferation in spleen. In conclusion, black seed oil exhibited a significant reduction in all the markers of allergic inflammation mainly by inhibiting the delayed type hypersensitivity and T-cell proliferation. The data suggests that inhibition of T-cell response may be responsible for immunomodulatory effect of black seed oil in the rat model of allergic airway inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Nigella / chemistry*
  • Ovalbumin
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / physiopathology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Spleen / drug effects
  • Spleen / metabolism
  • Th2 Cells / drug effects*
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Plant Oils
  • Ovalbumin