Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Black cumin seed is a powerful and safe anti-cancer agent. Here we see that the same ingredients help healthy cells live longer (telomere lengthening) and kill cancer cells (telomere shortening!)
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
Background: 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.
Methodology/principal findings: 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.
Conclusions/significance: 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.
Thymoquinone: An Edible Redox-Active Quinone for the Pharmacotherapy of Neurodegenerative Conditions and Glial Brain Tumors. A Short Review
There exist few efficient agents in the neurological and neurosurgical armamentarium for treatment of neurotrauma, refractory seizures and high grade glial tumors. Pathophysiological conditions of diverse neural injuries have converging common pathways including oxidative stress and apoptosis. Targeted therapies have been throughly investigated, but limited success has been achieved until now. Phytochemical drugs may provide easily achievable and cheap adjunctive sources. Thymoquinone is an edible quinone obtained from Nigella sativa seed oil and exerts powerful antiinflammatory, antioxidant and antitumor activities in experimental models. Recently emerging studies conducted with animal models suggest that thymoquinone – bearing a very simple molecular structure – significantly crosses the blood brain barrier and exerts neuromodulatory activities. Indeed, in animal studies, the following actions of thymoquinone were demonstrated: 1-Protection against ischemic brain damage. 2-Reduction of epileptic seizures and associated cerebral oxidative injury. 3-Reduction of morphine tolerance and associated oxidative brain damage. 4-Anxiolytic effects and reduction of immobility stress-associated cerebral oxidative injury. 5-Reduction of diabetes-induced cerebral oxidative stress, 6-Reduction of cerebral oxidative injuries induced by noxious exposures including toluene, lead and ionizing radiation. Substantial in vitro data suggest that thymoquinone may be beneficial in treatment of glial tumors. However, there is no clinical study investigating its antitumor effects. In fact, thymoquinone suppresses growth and invasion, and induces apoptosis of glial tumor cells via degrading tubulins and inhibiting 20S proteasome, telomerase, autophagy, FAK and metalloproteinases. A simple and easily available agent may be a promising adjunctive treatment option in neurological and neurosurgical practice.