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PLoS One. 2017 Sep 26;12(9):e0185374. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185374. eCollection 2017.

Thymoquinone ameliorates diabetic phenotype in Diet-Induced Obesity mice via activation of SIRT-1-dependent pathways.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, United States of America.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, United States of America.


Thymoquinone, a natural occurring quinone and the main bioactive component of plant Nigella sativa, undergoes intracellular redox cycling and re-oxidizes NADH to NAD+. TQ administration (20 mg/kg/bw/day) to the Diet-Induced Obesity (DIO) mice reduced their diabetic phenotype by decreasing fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin levels, and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity as evaluated by oral glucose and insulin tolerance tests (OGTT and ITT). Furthermore, TQ decreased serum cholesterol levels and liver triglycerides, increased protein expression of phosphorylated Akt, decreased serum levels of inflammatory markers resistin and MCP-1, and decreased NADH/NAD+ ratio. These changes were paralleled by an increase in phosphorylated SIRT-1 and AMPKα in liver and phosphorylated SIRT-1 in skeletal muscle. TQ also increased insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant HepG2 cells via a SIRT-1-dependent mechanism. These findings are consistent with the TQ-dependent re-oxidation of NADH to NAD+, which stimulates glucose and fatty acid oxidation and activation of SIRT-1-dependent pathways. Taken together, these results demonstrate that TQ ameliorates the diabetic phenotype in the DIO mouse model of type 2 diabetes.

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