Inhibition of neuroinflammation by thymoquinone requires activation of Nrf2/ARE signalling
Thymoquinone is an antioxidant phytochemical that has been shown to inhibit neuroinflammation. However, little is known about the potential roles of intracellular antioxidant signalling pathways in its anti-inflammatory activity. The objective of this study was to elucidate the roles played by activation of the Nrf2/ARE antioxidant mechanisms in the anti-inflammatory activity of this compound. Thymoquinone inhibited lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced neuroinflammation through interference with NF-κB signalling in BV2 microglia. Thymoquinone also activated Nrf2/ARE signalling by increasing nuclear localisation, DNA binding and transcriptional activity of Nrf2, as well as increasing protein levels of HO-1 and NQO1. Suppression of Nrf2 activity through siRNA or with the use of trigonelline resulted in the loss of anti-inflammatory activity by thymoquinone. Taken together, our studies show that thymoquinone inhibits NF-κB-dependent neuroinflammation in BV2 microglia, by targeting antioxidant pathway involving activation of both Nrf2/ARE. We propose that activation of Nrf2/ARE signalling pathway by thymoquinone probably results in inhibition of NF-κB-mediated neuroinflammation.