Renal protective effects of thymoquinone against sodium nitrite-induced chronic toxicity in rats: Impact on inflammation and apoptosis

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Sodium nitrite is a widely used color fixative and preservative. However, it has been reported to exert deleterious toxic effects on various body organs. Moreover, thymoquinone (TQ), the active constituent of Nigella sativa oil is known to possess beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. The present study was conducted to evaluate the potential protective effects of TQ against sodium nitrite-induced renal toxicity.

Main methods:

Male Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with sodium nitrite (80 mg/kg, po, daily) in presence or absence of TQ (25 and 50 mg/kg, po, daily). Morphological changes in renal sections were assessed by staining with Hematoxylin/Eosin and Periodic acid–Schiff. Renal homogenate was used for measurement of oxidative stress markers (MDA and GSH), inflammatory markers (CRP, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β), anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-10 and IL-4) and apoptotic markers (caspase-3/caspase-8/caspase-9).

Key findings:

Treatment with sodium nitrite significantly increased markers of renal dysfunction, oxidative stress, inflammation and apoptosis. These effects were markedly attenuated by TQ in dose dependent manner.


TQ has a potential protective effect against sodium nitrite-induced renal toxicity. This can be attributed to its ability to dampen oxidative stress, restore the normal balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines and protect renal tissue form extrinsic and intrinsic apoptosis.

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