Thymoquinone: fifty years of success in the battle against cancer models

Drug Discov Today. 2014 Jan;19(1):18-30. doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2013.08.021. Epub 2013 Aug 31.


Thymoquinone (TQ), the main active constituent of black seed essential oil, exhibits promising effects against inflammatory diseases and cancer. TQ, modulates signaling pathways that are key to cancer progression, and enhances the anticancer potential of clinical drugs while reducing their toxic side effects. Considering that TQ was isolated 50 years ago, this review focuses on TQ's chemical and pharmacological properties and the latest advances in TQ analog design and nanoformulation. We discuss our current state of knowledge of TQ's adjuvant potential and in vivo antitumor activity and highlight its ability to modulate the hallmarks of cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Benzoquinones / chemistry
  • Benzoquinones / isolation & purification
  • Benzoquinones / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Nigella sativa


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Benzoquinones
  • thymoquinone