Thymoquinone: A novel strategy to combat cancer: A review

Muhammad Imran*, Abdur Rauf, Imtiaz Ali Khan, Muhammad Shahbaz, Tahira Batool Qaisrani, Sri Fatmawati, Tareq Abu-Izneid, Ali Imran, Khaliq Ur Rahman, Tanweer Aslam Gondal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


The higher consumption of fruit, herbs, spices, and vegetables is well known and practical strategy to cure human cancers owing to their presence of bioactive compounds. Among these, Nigella sativa is a promising source of bioactive compounds including thymoquinone, monoterpenes, p-cymene and α-piene etc. Thymoquinone has been found effective to inhibit the different cancer stages such as proliferation, migration and invasion. It also acts as anticancer agent against different human cancers such as breast, pancreatic, prostate, blood, oral, bone, head and neck, cervical, liver and lung. It significantly mediated miR-34a up-regulation, enhanced the levels of miR-34a through p53, and down controlled Rac1 expression. Thymoquinone induces apoptosis, regulates the levels of pro- and anti- apoptotic genes. It also has been known to lower the phosphorylation of NF-κB and IKKα/β and reduces the metastasis as well as also lowered the ERK1/2 and PI3K activities. Thymoquinone inhibits the metastasis through activation of JNK and p38. The present review article highlights the anticancer perspectives of thymoquinone in human by various pathways and use of this compound as diet based therapy has proven new pharmacological agent against several types of cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-402
Number of pages13
JournalBiomedicine and Pharmacotherapy
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Antioxidant
  • Cancer
  • Chemical composition
  • Nigella sativa, black seed
  • Thymoquinone
  • Toxicity


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