Thymoquinone: A Tie-Breaker in SARS-CoV2-Infected Cancer Patients?

Cells. 2021 Feb 2;10(2):302. doi: 10.3390/cells10020302.


Since the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2(severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2) pandemic, arace to develop a vaccine has been initiated, considering the massive and rather significant economic and healthcare hits that this virus has caused. The pathophysiology occurring following COVID-19(coronavirus disease-2019) infection has givenhints regarding the supportive and symptomatic treatments to establish for patients, as no specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 is available yet. Patient symptoms vary greatly and range from mild symptoms to severe fatal complications. Supportive treatments include antipyretics, antiviral therapies, different combinations of broad-spectrum antibiotics, hydroxychloroquine and plasma transfusion. Unfortunately, cancer patients are at higher risk of viral infection and more likely to develop serious complications due to their immunocompromised state, the fact that they are already administering multiple medications, as well as combined comorbidity compared to the general population. It may seem impossible to find a drug that possesses both potent antiviral and anticancer effects specifically against COVID-19 infection and its complications and the existing malignancy, respectively. Thymoquinone (TQ) is the most pharmacologically active ingredient in Nigella sativa seeds (black seeds); it is reported to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in various settings. In this review, we will discuss the multiple effects of TQ specifically against COVID-19, its beneficial effects against COVID-19 pathophysiology and multiple-organ complications, its use as an adjuvant for supportive COVID-19 therapy and cancer therapy, and finally, its anticancer effects.

Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 complications; COVID-19 treatments; GRP78; Nrf2; RAS; SARS-CoV-2; anticancer drugs; apoptosis; cancer; thymoquinone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Antiviral Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Benzoquinones* / pharmacology
  • Benzoquinones* / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19* / complications
  • COVID-19* / drug therapy
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Repositioning*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms* / complications
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Rats


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Benzoquinones
  • thymoquinone