Background/Aim: Black seed oil containing Thymoquinone (TQ) has therapeutic benefits as a functional food to reverse the harmful effects of a high-fat diet (HFD) in obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. We studied TQ and its effects on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) during differentiation, proliferation and the consequences of TQ and Vitamin D3 on their additive effects on immune-mediated inflammation.
Methods: In in-vitro studies we treated MSCs with TQ, Commercial Black seed Oil (CBSO), and their respective combinations with Vitamin D3, compared to control for seven days. We examined the effects of TQ on MSC proliferation, levels of inflammatory biomarkers, changes in lipid droplet number and size, adipocyte differentiation, mitochondrial biogenesis, and stem cell function. Using C57BL/6J male mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD, 23 weeks) and then divided into three groups: Lean controls, HFD with no intervention, and HFD treated with TQ, for an additional eight weeks, we examined hepatic inflammation and ANG-1 levels.
Results: TQ increased the levels of Mfn-2 and PGC-1α. The addition of Vitamin D3 enhanced these effects. Also, TQ increased ANG-1 and decreased the inflammatory cytokine TNFα. ANG-1 action on MSCs directly affected MSC differentiation but not proliferation while improving immune function with a reduction in TNFα levels. HFD Mice treated with TQ all showed a decrease in lipid droplet size and number.
Conclusion: TQ is a functional food that increases stem cell (MSC) proliferation and significantly reduces the inflammatory state, both alone and with Vitamin D3. TQ had a powerful effect on MSC differentiation and expansion with a reduction in inflammation. TQ offers a potential therapy for the chronic immune-mediated inflammatory state caused by HFD induced obesity.