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Journal of Cancer Prevention


J Cancer Prev 2020; 25(3): 136-151

Published online September 30, 2020

© Korean Society of Cancer Prevention

Chemopreventive and Anticancer Effects of Thymoquinone: Cellular and Molecular Targets

Rohini Gomathinayagam1 , Ji Hee Ha1 , Muralidharan Jayaraman1 , Yong Sang Song2 , Ciro Isidoro3 , Danny N. Dhanasekaran1

1Stephenson Cancer Center, Department of Cell Biology, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA, 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cancer Research Institute, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea, 3Laboratory of Molecular Pathology and NanoBioImaging, Department of Health Sciences, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy

Correspondence to :
Danny N. Dhanasekaran, E-mail:,

Received: August 3, 2020; Revised: September 11, 2020; Accepted: September 14, 2020

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Thymoquinone (TQ) is a bioactive component derived from the seeds of Nigella sativa that are commonly as black cumin. Evidences indicate that the medicinal properties of TQ have been recognized for more than 2000 years. TQ has been shown to possess potent chemopreventive properties that include anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic activities. Recent studies have unraveled the multiple mechanisms through which TQ exerts its chemopreventive and anticancer activity in different cancer cells in a contextual manner. The present review aims to provide a brief compendium on the molecular mechanisms through which TQ inhibits signaling pathways underlying cancer genesis, progression, and metastasis.

Keywords: Nigella sativa, Thymoquinone, Neoplasms, Chemoprevention, Antineoplastic agent

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