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Neurochem Res. 2008 Jan;33(1):87-96. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Effects of Nigella sativa and its major constituent, thymoquinone on sciatic nerves in experimental diabetic neuropathy.

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Department of Histology and Embryology, Faculty of Medicine, Trakya University, Edirne, Turkey.


The aim of this study was designed to investigate the possible beneficial effects of Nigella sativa (NS) and thymoquinone (TQ) on histopathological changes of sciatic nerves in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. The rats were randomly allotted into one of four experimental groups: A (control), B (diabetic untreated), C (diabetic treated with NS) and D (diabetic treated with TQ); each group contain ten animals. B, C and D groups received streptozotocin (STZ) to induce diabetes. The rats in NS and TQ treated groups were given NS (in a dose of 400 mg/kg body weight) and TQ (50 mg/kg body weight) once a day orally by using intra-gastric intubation for 12 weeks starting 2 days after STZ injection, respectively. Blood and tissue samples were obtained for biochemical and histopathological investigation. The treatment of both NS and TQ caused a sharp decrease in the elevated serum glucose (P < 0.01, 0.05, respectively), and an increase in the lowered serum insulin concentrations (P < 0.01, 0.05, respectively), in STZ-induced diabetic rats. STZ induced a significant decrease in the area of insulin immunoreactive beta-cells (P < 0.0001). NS (P < 0.001) and TQ (P < 0.01) treatment resulted in increased area of insulin immunoreactive beta-cells significantly. To date, no histopathological changes of sciatic nerves in STZ induced diabetic rats by NS and TQ treatment have been reported. In this study, histologic evaluation of the tissues in diabetic animals treated with TQ and especially NS showed fewer morphologic alterations. Myelin breakdown decreased significantly after treatment with NS and TQ. The ultrastructural features of axons also showed remarkable improvement. We believe that further preclinical research into the utility of NS and TQ may indicate its usefulness as a potential treatment on peripheral neuropathy (PN) in STZ induced diabetic rats.

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