Thymoquinone protects against carbon tetrachloride hepatotoxicity in mice via an antioxidant mechanism

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Thymoquinone (TQ) is the major active component of the volatile oil of Nigella sativa seeds. The effects of TQ on carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced hepatotoxicity was investigated in male Swiss albino mice. Carbontetrachloride (20 μl/Kg i.p.) injected into mice, induced damage to liver cells and was followed by the increase in serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity after 24 h. Oral administration of TQ in a single dose (100 mg/Kg) resulted in significant (p < 0.001) protection against the hepatotoxic effects of CCl4. TQ was tested as a substrate for mice hepatic DT-diaphorase in the presence of NADH. TQ appears to undergo reduction to dihydrothymoquinone (DHTQ). Reduction rates as a function of protein (liver homogenate) and substrate (TQ) concentrations are reported. An apparent Km of 0.1 mM and an apparent V max of 74 μmol/min/g liver were measured. TQ and DHTQ inhibited the in vitro non-enzymatic lipid peroxidation in liver homogenate (induced by Fe3+-ascorbate) in a dose dependent manner. In this in vitro model DHTQ was more potent in comparison with TQ and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). The IC50 for DHTQ, TQ and BHT were found to be 0.34, 0.87 and 0.58 μM respectively. The data suggest that the in vivo protective action of TQ against CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity may be mediated through the combined antioxidant properties of TQ and its metabolite DHTQ.

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