Brain Cancer and the Seeds

Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Brain cancer is epidemic, in my informed opinion, due to cell phone usage  (see  here  here   here  here  here ).  But trying to separate your teen age daughter from her cell phone is close to impossible.  (Thank God that they mostly text – phone in hand-  and not talk – phone on ear).  So if someone you love has brain cancer, know your options.  Remember that a healthy immune system beats a healthy cancer any day of the week. How to get a healthy immune system? Old news: 1) eat healthy organic nutrient dense food,  2) drink good water (and no junk pop etc) 3) oxygenate your blood with exercise or song or prayer 4) create meaning and love.   But for the nutrient dense foods…  best to eat the seeds (the treasure chest of nature – the most nutrient dense food on earth including the seed HUSK (avoid extracted seed oils which oxidize and don’t have the nutrient dense seed husk). 


“…Here, we show that TQ selectively inhibits the clonogenicity of glioblastoma cells as compared to normal human astrocytes. Also, glioblastoma cell proliferation could be impaired by chloroquine, an autophagy inhibitor, suggesting that glioblastoma cells may be dependent on the autophagic pathway for survival…”

“…Thymoquinone induced DNA damage, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in the glioblastoma cells…”

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 9;8(9):e72882. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072882. eCollection 2013.

Thymoquinone inhibits autophagy and induces cathepsin-mediated, caspase-independent cell death in glioblastoma cells.


Glioblastoma is the most aggressive and common type of malignant brain tumor in humans, with a median survival of 15 months. There is a great need for more therapies for the treatment of glioblastoma. Naturally occurring phytochemicals have received much scientific attention because many exhibit potent tumor killing action. Thymoquinone (TQ) is the bioactive compound of the Nigella sativa seed oil. TQ has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic actions with selective cytotoxicity for human cancer cells compared to normal cells. Here, we show that TQ selectively inhibits the clonogenicity of glioblastoma cells as compared to normal human astrocytes. Also, glioblastoma cell proliferation could be impaired by chloroquine, an autophagy inhibitor, suggesting that glioblastoma cells may be dependent on the autophagic pathway for survival. Exposure to TQ caused an increase in the recruitment and accumulation of the microtubule-associated protein light chain 3-II (LC3-II). TQ also caused an accumulation of the LC3-associated protein p62, confirming the inhibition of autophagy. Furthermore, the levels of Beclin-1 protein expression were unchanged, indicating that TQ interferes with a later stage of autophagy. Finally, treatment with TQ induces lysosome membrane permeabilization, as determined by a specific loss of red acridine orange staining. Lysosome membrane permeabilization resulted in a leakage of cathepsin B into the cytosol, which mediates caspase-independent cell death that can be prevented by pre-treatment with a cathepsin B inhibitor. TQ induced apoptosis, as determined by an increase in PI and Annexin V positive cells. However, apoptosis appears to be caspase-independent due to failure of the caspase inhibitor z-VAD-FMK to prevent cell death and absence of the typical apoptosis related signature DNA fragmentation. Inhibition of autophagy is an exciting and emerging strategy in cancer therapy. In this vein, our results describe a novel mechanism of action for TQ as an autophagy inhibitor selectively targeting glioblastoma cells.

Invest New Drugs. 2012 Dec;30(6):2121-31. doi: 10.1007/s10637-011-9777-3. Epub 2011 Dec 15.

Thymoquinone reduces migration and invasion of human glioblastoma cells associated with FAK, MMP-2 and MMP-9 down-regulation.


Glioblastoma represent the most frequent primary tumors of the central nervous system and remain among the most aggressive human cancers as available therapeutic approaches still fail to contain their invasiveness. Many studies have reported elevated expression of the Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) protein in glioblastoma, associated with an increase in the rates of both migration and invasion. This designates FAK as a promising target to limit invasiveness in glioblastomaThymoquinone (TQ), the main phytoactive compound of Nigella sativa has shown remarkable anti-neoplasic activities on a variety of cancer cells. Here, we studied the anti-invasive and anti-migratory effects of TQ on human glioblastoma cells. The results obtained indicated that TQ treatment reduced migration, adhesion and invasion of both U-87 and CCF-STTG1 cells. This was accompanied by a drastic down-regulation of FAK, associated with a reduction of ERK phosphorylation as well as MMP-2 and MMP-9 secretion. This study provides new data on FAK regulation by a natural product (TQ) which could be of a great value for the development of novel therapies in glioblastoma.

PLoS One. 2010 Aug 12;5(8):e12124. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012124.

Thymoquinone induces telomere shortening, DNA damage and apoptosis in human glioblastoma cells.



A major concern of cancer chemotherapy is the side effects caused by the non-specific targeting of both normal and cancerous cells by therapeutic drugs. Much emphasis has been placed on discovering new compounds that target tumour cells more efficiently and selectively with minimal toxic effects on normal cells.


The cytotoxic effect of thymoquinone, a component derived from the plant Nigella sativa, was tested on human glioblastoma and normal cells. Our findings demonstrated that glioblastoma cells were more sensitive to thymoquinone-induced antiproliferative effects.Thymoquinone induced DNA damage, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in the glioblastoma cells. It was also observed that thymoquinone facilitated telomere attrition by inhibiting the activity of telomerase. In addition to these, we investigated the role of DNA-PKcs on thymoquinone mediated changes in telomere length. Telomeres in glioblastoma cells with DNA-PKcs were more sensitive to thymoquinone mediated effects as compared to those cells deficient in DNA-PKcs.


Our results indicate that thymoquinone induces DNA damage, telomere attrition by inhibiting telomerase and cell death in glioblastoma cells. Telomere shortening was found to be dependent on the status of DNA-PKcs. Collectively, these data suggest that thymoquinone could be useful as a potential chemotherapeutic agent in the management for brain tumours.



FEBS J. 2010 May;277(9):2128-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2010.07629.x.

Effects of thymoquinone on isolated and cellular proteasomes.


Thymoquinone, a naturally derived agent, has been shown to possess antioxidant, antiproliferative and proapoptotic activities. In the present study, we explored thymoquinone effects on the proteasomal complex, the major system involved in the removal of damaged, oxidized and misfolded proteins. In purified 20S complexes, subunit-dependent and composition-dependent inhibition was observed, and the chymotrypsin-like and trypsin-like activities were the most susceptible to thymoquinone treatment. U87 MG and T98G malignant glioma cells were treated with thymoquinone, and 20S and 26S proteasome activity was measured. Inhibition of the complex was evident in both cell lines, but predominantly in U87 MG cells, and was accompanied by accumulation of ubiquitin conjugates. Accumulation of p53 and Bax, two proteasome substrates with proapoptotic activity, was observed in both cell lines. Our results demonstrate that thymoquinone induces selective and time-dependent proteasome inhibition, both in isolated enzymes and in glioblastoma cells, and suggest that this mechanism could be implicated in the induction of apoptosis in cancer cells.

Cell Death Dis. 2014 Aug 21;5:e1381. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2014.349.

Sialidase NEU4 is involved in glioblastoma stem cell survival.


The human sialidase, NEU4, has emerged as a possible regulator of neuronal differentiation and its overexpression has been demonstrated to promote the acquisition of a stem cell-like phenotype in neuroblastoma cells. In this paper, we demonstrated that glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) isolated fromglioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cell lines and patients’ specimens as neurospheres are specifically marked by the upregulation of NEU4; in contrast, the expression of NEU4 is very low in non-neurosphere-differentiated GBM cells. We showed that NEU4 silencing by miRNA or a chemical inhibitor of its catalytic activity triggered key events in GSCs, including (a) the activation of the glycogen synthase kinase 3β, with the consequent inhibition of Sonic Hedgehog and Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathways; (b) the decrease of the stem cell-like gene expression and marker signatures, evidenced by the reduction of NANOG, OCT-4, SOX-2, CD133 expression, ganglioside GD3 synthesis, and an altered protein glycosylation profile; and (c) a significant decrease in GSCs survival. Consistent with this finding, increased NEU4 activity and expression induced in the more differentiated GBM cells by the NEU4 agonist thymoquinone increased the expression of OCT-4 and GLI-1. Thus, NEU4 expression and activity appeared to help to determine the molecular signature of GSCs and to be closely connected with their survival properties. Given the pivotal role played by GSCs in GBM lethality, our results strongly suggest that NEU4 inhibition could significantly improve current therapies against this tumour.

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