Nigella sativa seed extract: 1. Enhancement of sheep macrophage immune functions in vitro

Res Vet Sci. 2013 Oct;95(2):437-43. doi: 10.1016/j.rvsc.2013.02.015. Epub 2013 May 7.


Nigella sativa (N. sativa) seed, Black cumin, immunomodulatory activity has been investigated in human and mice. Little is known about the immunomodulatory effect of Nigella sativa (N. sativa) seed extract on animals' immune cells, specifically, antigen presenting cells such as macrophages. This study focused on the immunomodulatory effect of N. sativa seed extract on sheep macrophage functions in vitro. Sheep peripheral blood monocytes were isolated and derived to macrophages (MDM). The MDM were cultured with N. sativa seed extract and their morphological changes, phagocytic activity, nitric oxide production, and microbicidal activity were investigated. Marked morphological changes were observed in MDM cultured with N. sativa seed extract including cell size enlargement; increase in both cytoplasmic space and cytoplasmic granules. Significant increases in phagocytic activity to Candida albicans yeast and in number of yeast engulfed per individual MDM were observed in cells cultured with seed extract. MDM capacity to produce nitric oxide was higher in the culture media of the seed extract-cultured cells compared to the control. Interestingly, prominent enhancement in MDM microbicidal activity to yeast or bacteria was observed in MDM cultured with N. sativa seed extract confirming the potent immunostimulatory effect of the extract. From this study, it could be concluded that N. sativa seed extract can enhance macrophages' important innate immune functions that could control infectious diseases and regulate adaptive immunity.

Keywords: Microbicidal activity; Monocytes-derived macrophages; N. sativa extract; Nitric oxide production; Phagocytic capacity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Candida albicans
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Escherichia coli
  • Female
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Male
  • Nigella sativa / chemistry*
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Seeds / chemistry*
  • Sheep
  • Staphylococcus aureus


  • Plant Extracts
  • Nitric Oxide