Human tuberculosis, which is caused by the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, remains a major public health concern. Increasing drug resistance poses a threat of disease resurgence and continues to cause considerable mortality worldwide, which necessitates the development of new drugs with improved efficacy. Thymoquinone (TQ), an essential compound of Nigella sativa, was previously reported as an active anti-tuberculosis agent.
In this study, the effects of TQ on intracellular mycobacterial replication are examined in macrophages. In addition, its effect on mycobacteria-induced NO production and pro-inflammatory responses were investigated in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB)-infected Type II human alveolar and human myeloid cell lines.
TQ at concentrations ranging from 12.5 to 25 μg/mL and 6.25 to 12.5 μg/mL reduced intracellular M. tuberculosis H37Rv and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) 72 h post-infection in RAW 264.7 cells. TQ treatment also produced a concentration-dependent reduction in nitric oxide production in both H37Rv and XDR-TB infected RAW 264.7 cells. Furthermore, TQ reduced the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and pro-inflammatory molecules such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interlukin-6 (IL-6) in H37Rv-infected cells and eventually reduced pathogen-derived stress in host cells.
TQ inhibits intracellular H37Rv and XDR-TB replication and MTB-induced production of NO and pro-inflammatory molecules. Therefore, along with its anti-inflammatory effects, TQ represents a prospective treatment option to combat Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.