Effect of Nigella sativa on immune response in treadmill exercised rat

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Nov 7;14:437. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-437.


Background: In the present study the effect of Nigella sativa (N. sativa) ethanolic extract on cytokine profile in control, moderate and overtrained heavy exercised rat was examined.

Methods: Male Wistar rats were randomly divided into control sedentary (C), moderate trained (MT), (V = 20 m/min, 30 min/day, 6 days a week, for 8 weeks), overtrained (OT) (V = 25 m/min, 60 min/day, 6 days a week, for 11 weeks), control sedentary + N. sativa (NC), moderate trained + N. sativa (NM) and overtrained + N. sativa (NO). Immediately and 24 h after the last bout of exercise blood samples were obtained. The serum concentrations of TNFα, IL-6, IL-10, IL-4 and IFNγ were measured by ELISA method.

Results: Immediately after exercise the following findings were observed; IL-6, IL-10 and TNFα concentration increased in OT and NC groups but Just IL-6 in MT groups compared with control (P< 0.05-P< 0.001). Serum level of IL-4 decreased in MT and NC (P< 0.05-P< 0.001) but IFNγ increased (P< 0.05) just in MT group vs control. In addition, circulatory levels of TNFα, IL-6, IL-10 and IL-4 were higher in OT and NM groups but the IFNγ concentration was lower in the OT group than the MT group (P< 0.05-P< 0.01). The IFN-γ/IL4 ratio was significantly increased in MT and NC (P< 0.05-P< 0.01) while it decreased in OT group. There were not statistical differences in TNFα, IL-6, and IFNγ levels between different time intervals after exercise in all groups.

Conclusions: Chronic administration of N. sativa may change pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines profiles. Also it may act as a balancing factor on Th1/Th2 lymphocytes in different exercise loads and act as an inhibitory factor on Th2 phenotype in control animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interleukin-10 / blood
  • Interleukin-4 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Male
  • Nigella sativa*
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism
  • Th1-Th2 Balance / drug effects*
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • Plant Extracts
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma