Planta Med 2008; 74(2): 105-108
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1034280
Original Paper
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

The Effect of Nigellone and Thymoquinone on Inhibiting Trachea Contraction and Mucociliary Clearance

N. Wienkötter1 , D. Höpner1 , U. Schütte1 , K. Bauer1 , F. Begrow1 , M. El-Dakhakhny2 , E. J. Verspohl1
  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Medicinal Chemistry, Münster, Germany
  • 2Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Alexandria, Egypt
Further Information

Publication History

Received: August 22, 2007 Revised: December 4, 2007

Accepted: December 9, 2007

Publication Date:
24 January 2008 (online)


Nigella sativa L. has many effects including those on the gastrointestinal tract and trachea and is, therefore, used in the Mediteranean area and in India/Pakistan. Our aim was to investigate the effect of two main constituents, nigellone and thymoquinone, on trachea (antispasmodic effect) and their influence on respiratory clearance. The effects on Ba2+-, carbachol- and leukotriene-induced trachea contractions and the transport of the fluorescence dye rhodamin B concerning ciliary action in the tracheal area were investigated using a microdialysis technique. Nigellone and high concentrations of thymoquinone had a concentration-dependent inhibitory effect on the trachea when being contracted by the depolarizing effect of Ba2+. The trachea contractions induced by leukotriene-d4 were inhibited by nigellone and by thymoquinone. The cholinergic system (stimulation by carbachol) was hardly involved. The rate of ciliary clearance (mucociliary transport) was slightly modified by a high thymoquinone concentration (153.0 vs. 505.0 sec/12 mm distance, respectively), and was highly increased by nigellone (217.5 vs. 505.0 sec/12 mm distance). In conclusion, this study provides evidence for an antispasmodic effect and an increase in mucociliary clearance for nigellone but not for thymoquinone. Altogether the data indicate that nigellone but not thymoquinone may be useful in treatment of different respiratory diseases.


  • 1 El-Dakhakhny M. Studies on the chemical constituents of the Egyptian Nigella sativa L. seedes, II - the essential oil.  Planta Med. 1963;  12 465-9
  • 2 Al-Majed A A, Daba M H, Asiri Y A, Al-Shabanah O A, Mostafa A A, El-Kashef H A. Thymoquinone-induced relaxation of guinea-pig isolated trachea.  Res Commun Mol Pathol Pharmacol. 2001;  110 333-45
  • 3 Mahfouz M, El-Dakhakhny M. Some chemical and pharmacological properties of the new antiasthmatic drug nigellone.  Alexandria Med J. 1960;  6 357-60
  • 4 Gilani A H, Aziz N, Khurram I M, Chaudhary K S, Iqbal A. Bronchodilator, spasmolytic and calcium antagonist activities of Nigella sativa seeds (Kalonji): a traditional herbal product with multiple medicinal uses.  J Pak Med Assoc. 2001;  51 115-20
  • 5 El-Dakhakhny M, Barakat M K, Abdel-Halim M, Aly S M. Effects of Nigella sativa oil on gastic secretion and ethanol induced ulcer in rats.  J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;  72 299-304
  • 6 El-Dakhakhny M. Studies on Egyptian Nigella sativa L. Some pharmacological properties of the seeds' active principle in comparison to its dihydro compound and its polymer.  Arzneimittelforschung/Drug Res. 1965;  15 1227-9
  • 7 Al-Ghamdi M S. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic activity of Nigella sativa. .  J Ethnopharmacol. 2001;  76 45-8
  • 8 Marsik P, Kokosha L, Landa P, Nepovim A, Soudek P, Vanek T. In vitro inhibitory effects of thymol and quinones of Nigella sativa seeds on cyclooxygenase -1 and -2 catalyzed prostaglandin E2 biosyntheses.  Planta Med. 2005;  71 739-42
  • 9 El-Dakhakhny M, Mady N I, Halim M A. Nigella sativa oil protects against induced hepatotoxicity and improves serum lipid profile in rats.  Arzneimittelforschung/Drug Res. 2000;  50 832-6
  • 10 Toppozada H H, Mazloum H M, El-Dakhakhny M. The antibacterial properties of Nigella sativa seeds: Active principle with some clinical application.  J Egypt Med Assoc. 1965;  48 187-202
  • 11 Kokoska L, Havlik J, Valterova I, Sovova H, Sajfrtova M, Marsik P. Antibacterial activity of Nigella sativa seed essential oil and effect of different extraction methods on content of its active principle, thymoquinone.  Planta Med. 2006;  72 83
  • 12 El-Moufty M M, El-Dakhakhny M, Shawair M H, Abdel Galil A M, El-Deen M H. Prevention of skin tumors induced by DMBA in mice by black seed oil.  Oncol Rep. 1997;  4 139-41
  • 13 El-Dakhakhny M, Mady N, Lembert N, Ammon H PT. The hypoglycaemic effect of Nigella sativa oil is mediated by extrapancreatic actions.  Planta Med. 2002;  68 465-6
  • 14 Eltahir K E, Ashour M M, Al-Harbi M M. The respiratory effects of the volatile oil fo the black seed (Nigella sativa) in guinea-pigs: elucidation of the mechanism(s) of action.  Gen Pharmacol. 1993;  24 1115-22
  • 15 Mahfouz M, Abdel Maguid R, El-Dakhakhny M. The therapeutic use of the new drug nigellone in the treatment of bronchial asthma in adults.  Alexamdria Med J. 1960;  6 543-5
  • 16 El-Dakhakhny M, Gomaa K H, Abu-Rayan M, Hafez S, Haleem A. Effect of inhaled nigellone on the bronchomotor tone, diaphragmatic contractility, saturation in normal and asthmatic patients.  Tanta Med Sci J. 1988;  16 1101-3
  • 17 Chakravarti N. Inhibition of histamine release from mast cells by nigellone.  Ann Allergy. 1993;  70 237-42
  • 18 Gomaa Kh, El-Dakhakhny M, Abdel-Rehem I. Effect of nigellone on rat passive cutaneous anaphylaxis and in vitro histamine release from rat peritoneal mast cells. Annual Meeting of the German Society of Pharmacology and Toxicology Cologne; 1989
  • 19 Houghton P J, Zarka R, DeCasHeras B, Hoult J RS. Fixed oil of Nigella sativa and derived thymoquinone inhibit eicosanoid generation in leucocytes and membrane lipid peroxidation.  Planta Med. 1995;  61 33-6
  • 20 El Kadi A, Kandil O, Tabuni A M. Nigella sativa and cell mediated immunity.  Arch AIDS Res. 1990;  1 232-4
  • 21 Mahdi H E. Effect of Nigella sativa L. on the immune system in cirrhotic patients [dissertation]. Cairo; Internal Medicine El-Azhar University 1993
  • 22 Abbas A T, Abdel-Aziz M M, Zalata K R, Abd Al-Galel T el-D. Effect of dexamethasone and Nigella sativa on peripheral blood eosinophil count, IgG1 and IgG2a, cytokine profiles and lung inflammation in murine model of allergic asthma.  Egypt J Immunol. 2005;  12 95-102
  • 23 Grubb B R, Jones J H, Boucher R C. Mucociliary transport determined by in vivo microdialysis in the airways of normal and CF mice.  Am J Physiol (Lung Cell Mol Physiol). 2004;  286 L588-95
  • 24 Wienkötter N, Begrow F, Kinzinger U, Schierstedt D, Verspohl E J. The effects of thyme extract on β2-receptors and mucociliary clearance.  Planta Med. 2007;  73 629-35
  • 25 Akcasu A. The actions of drugs on the isolated trachea.  J Pharm Pharmacol. 1952;  4 671-5
  • 26 Constantine J. The spirally cut tracheal strip preparation.  J Pharm Pharmacol. 1965;  17 384-5
  • 27 Emmerson J, Mackay D. The zig-zag tracheal strip.  J Pharm Pharmacol. 1979;  31 798

Dr. E. J. Verspohl

Institute of Medicinal Chemistry

Dept. of Pharmacology

Hittorfstr. 58 - 62

48149 Münster