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Pharmacogn Mag. 2017 Oct;13(Suppl 3):S628-S632. doi: 10.4103/pm.pm_93_17. Epub 2017 Oct 11.

Apoptotic Effect of Nigella sativa on Human Lymphoma U937 Cells.

Author information

Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Üsküdar University, Istanbul, Turkey.
Department of Bioengineering, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Üsküdar University, Istanbul, Turkey.



Nigella sativa is from botanical Ranunculaceae family and commonly known as black seed. Apoptotic effect of N. sativa and its apoptotic signaling pathways on U937 lymphoma cells are unknown.

Materials and Methods:

In this study, we investigated selective cytotoxic and apoptotic effects of N. sativa extract and its apoptotic mechanisms on U937 cells. In addition, we also studied selective cytotoxic activity of thymoquinone that is the most active essential oil of N. sativa.


Our results showed that N. sativa extract has selective cytotoxicity and apoptotic effects on U937 cells but not ECV304 control cells. However, thymoquinone had no significant cytotoxicity against on both cells. N. sativa extract increased significantly caspase-3, BAD, and p53 gene expressions in U937 cells.


N. sativa may have anticancer drug potential and trigger p53-induced apoptosis in U937 lymphoma cells.


This is the first study showing the apoptotic effect of Nigella sativa extract on U937 cells. Abbreviations used: CI: Cytotoxicity index, DMEM: Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium, HL: Hodgkin's lymphoma, MTT: 3-(4,5-dimethy lthiazol-2yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide, RPMI: Roswell Park Memorial Institute medium.


Apoptosis; Nigella sativa; caspase-3; human lymphoma U937 cells; p53; thymoquinone

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